Aspirin: The sign in your cough of a ‘serious’ side effect – ‘call your doctor’

This Morning: Dr Helen gives advice on mixing painkillers

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While aspirin can be used to treat a number of minor medical conditions, it can also be used to prevent more serious problems.

The NHS says: “If you’ve had a stroke or heart attack, or are at high risk of a heart attack, your doctor may recommend that you take a daily low-dose aspirin.”

Furthermore, aspirin may also be prescribed a low dosage of the drug during pregnancy.

Despite its wide application aspirin is not without its side effects.

Serious side effects of aspirin include coughing up blood, blood in the urine, faeces, or vomit; the NHS recommends that individuals should: “Call your doctor or contact 111” in this scenario.

Other side effects that require urgent consultation with a doctor are the whites of the eyes turning yellow, urine getting darker, the joints of the hands and feet becoming painful or swelling.

Taking aspirin can also cause stomach ulcers in some cases with the NHS recommending: “If you’re at risk of getting a stomach ulcer and you need a painkiller, take paracetamol instead of aspirin as it’s more gentle on your stomach.”

The full list of potential side effects of aspirin will normally be listed on the warning leaflet that comes with each packet of medication.

Should a person experience a side effect that isn’t listed on the leaflet, there is a way for them to report its existence.

Launched in 1964, the Yellow Card Scheme was set up by the UK government to allow people to report any side effects or issues with medicines or medicinal products.

From this the MHRA could review each query or report and then act accordingly.

During the pandemic a Covid specific Yellow Card Scheme so the public could report any side effects or issues relating to Covid related medications or medicinal products.

Whether this form of the Yellow Card Scheme will be continued now restrictions have been lifted and the government’s approach to Covid changing is yet to be seen.

The current Yellow Card Scheme remains in place as a way for the public to report issues.

Meanwhile, in the United States, a new study has been investigating whether aspirin could be used to prevent the onset of colorectal (bowel) cancer.

Published in Cancer Prevention Research, the study suggested that aspirin may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in women.

It has since been suggested by the authors of the study that aspirin could be used as a preventative treatment.

While this is a positive development, more data and peer-reviewed research has to be conducted to identify a link.

Cancer Research UK says one in 15 men and one in 18 women in the UK will be diagnosed with bowel cancer.

For more information on bowel cancer and its symptoms contact the NHS or consult with your GP.

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