Why Is Aspirin Bad for You?

Reviewed on 1/13/2022

Woman holding aspirin (pain medication) pills and a glass of water
Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), pain medication, blood thinner, and fever reducer. Aspirin is considered safe when taken as directed, but there are some contraindications. People may have an increased risk of bleeding and gastrointestinal problems if they have a stomach or intestinal ulcer, heart disease, history of stroke, kidney disease, heart failure, cirrhosis, high blood pressure, and more.

Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat pain and inflammation in the body, to treat fever, to prevent blood clots, and to reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks. 

Aspirin may be used off-label (a use not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA) to decrease the risk of developing hereditary colorectal cancer (i.e., Lynch syndrome).  

8 Types of People Who Shouldn't Take Aspirin

When taken as directed for the intended uses, aspirin is generally considered safe, however, it can increase the risk of bleeding and gastrointestinal problems, and certain people should avoid use of aspirin, such as those who:

  • Have a stomach or intestinal ulcer or you had bleeding in the gut because aspirin and other NSAIDs can damage the stomach or intestines
  • Have heart disease or ever had a stroke, because aspirin and other NSAIDs can increase the risk of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke
  • Have kidney disease, heart failure, or cirrhosis, because aspirin and other NSAIDs can worsen heart failure, kidney disease, and cirrhosis 
  • Take diuretics (“water pills”), because aspirin and other NSAIDs can cause kidney problems in people taking diuretics or some other medicines to control blood pressure
  • Have high blood pressure, because aspirin and other NSAIDs can raise blood pressure 
  • Have disorders that increase the risk of bleeding
  • Have surgery planned, because most people need to stop aspirin and other NSAIDs at least several days to a week before surgery to lower the risk of bleeding
  • Are pregnant, because use of aspirin and other NSAIDs during the last 3 months of pregnancy should be avoided 

What Are the Side Effects of Aspirin?

Side effects of aspirin include:

What Drugs Interact with Aspirin?

Aspirin may interact with other drugs, including: 

Check all prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) labels carefully since many medicines contain pain relievers/fever reducers (including aspirin and other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and ketorolac). 


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Reviewed on 1/13/2022
Image Source: iStock Images