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Aspirin Poisoning: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Nov 16, 2023

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Causes Of Aspirin Poisoning

Symptoms Of Aspirin Poisoning 

Diagnosis Of Aspirin Poisoning

Treatment Of Aspirin Poisoning

Active Charcoal

Blood Dialysis

Gastric Lavage

Intravenous (IV) fluids

Aspirin Poisoning Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Aspirin is another name for acetylsalicylic acid, a common analgesic drug. Salicylic acid, which is present in willow bark, is used to make the medication aspirin. Certain individuals use it as a mild blood thinner.

Aspirin is readily available over the counter, leading one to believe that it is safe. Additionally, one can take too much of it.

Given that a salicylate overdose can be lethal, it is a medical emergency. This article explains when to go to the emergency room and how much aspirin is too much.

Aspirin comes in a variety of milligrams (mg) dosages. These comprise:

  • 81 mg (also called low-dose or "baby" aspirin, even though aspirin shouldn't be given to newborns)
  • 325 mg and 500 mg (stronger dose)

If a person takes far more aspirin than their body can process, they may develop aspirin poisoning. Usually, doctors categorize this into three levels of toxicity: mild, moderate, and lethal. The following is a breakdown of these in aspirin milligrams per kilogram of body weight (mg/kg):

  • Mild-: under 300 mg/kg
  • Moderate-In between 300 and 500 mg/kg, moderate
  • Deadly: 500 milligrams or more per kilogram

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Causes Of Aspirin Poisoning

For a variety of reasons, some people intentionally harm other people or eat poisons. A few causes are as follows:

  • Suicide
  • Getting personalized care
  • Child abuse

Another potential unintended poisoning that frequently affects children is aspirin poisoning. Its decreasing occurrence has been attributed to safety precautions such as child-resistant packaging.

Inappropriate dose is one of the primary causes of inadvertent aspirin poisoning in both children and the elderly. Hundreds of over-the-counter and prescription medications include aspirin or substances similar to it. Accidental poisoning may result from using these medications in combination, at incorrect dosages, or for an extended period. This is especially likely to happen to older people who have chronic health conditions.

Also Read: Anti-Cancer Drugs - NEET PG Pharmacology

Symptoms Of Aspirin Poisoning 

Acute aspirin toxicity can initially manifest as hearing loss and tinnitus or ringing in the ears. More clinically significant symptoms and signs include vomiting, fever, dehydration, double vision, and fainting. Fast breathing is known as hyperventilation.

Some of the more severe symptoms of aspirin poisoning include wobbly walking, unusual conduct, drowsiness, or confusion. Comas are also possible secondary symptoms.

An aspirin overdose usually results in rapid, deep irregular breathing. Vomiting may occur 3 to 8 hours after taking too much aspirin. Severe dehydration can result from fever, hyperventilation, and frequent vomiting.

Here are a few examples of severity indicators:

  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Confusion
  • Coma
  • Decreased pulse rate
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapidly breathing
  • Feeling uncomfortable and vomiting
  • Tiredness

Also Read: Drugs Used in Acute and Chronic Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Diagnosis Of Aspirin Poisoning

How much aspirin was consumed is the first question a doctor will ask you or a friend or relative. A doctor may be given empty pill bottles to help decide an appropriate dosage.

The doctor may order blood and urine tests to determine the extent of aspirin's toxicity and the level of salicylates in your blood. Examples of tests include:

  • Blood gasses
  • Urinalysis
  • Plasma salicylate levels
  • Basic metabolic panel

Aspirin absorption may take longer in the body. Therefore, your doctor may test your blood levels frequently to make sure that aspirin levels aren't increasing over time.

In case you are unclear about the amount you took, a doctor will try to rule out other possible causes. A few additional conditions that potentially exhibit symptoms like an aspirin overdose are as follows:

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Ethanol toxicity
  • Electrolytes poisoning
  • Sepsis
  • Iron Toxicity

Still, if salicylate levels are raised, a physician will likely treat an aspirin overdose.

Also Read: Autacoids- An Overview - NEET PG Pharmacology

Treatment Of Aspirin Poisoning

Your overall health and the amount of aspirin in your blood will determine how you are treated for aspirin poisoning. Severe cases may require the following kinds of treatments:

Active Charcoal

This substance will decrease the rate at which the body absorbs aspirin. By doing so, blood levels may drop and the risk of major problems from an aspirin overdose may be reduced.

Blood Dialysis

If your symptoms are potentially fatal or if your plasma salicylate level is more than 100 mg per deciliter of blood, dialysis can be required. This method is used to get rid of unwanted toxins from the blood.

A specific intravenous access must be obtained by a medical specialist in order to deliver dialysis.

Gastric Lavage

This method removes excess aspirin from the contents of the stomach. However, gastric lavage can only be performed if the aspirin was consumed no more than four hours prior.

Usually, a doctor or nurse will put a tube through the nose that goes to the stomach. They might suction this tube to remove the contents of the stomach. Another option would be to inject fluid into the stomach and vacuum out more contents.

Intravenous (IV) fluids

particularly 5% dextrose with sodium bicarbonate added, which can help reduce the acidity of the blood and urine. This helps the body release aspirin quickly.

On rare occasions, a doctor might mix potassium into the drinks. This is because the possibility of additional health problems resulting from low potassium levels exists.

Rarely, during treatment, ventilation, and intubation (using a breathing tube to support the airway) may be required.

Also Read: Pharmacokinetics: Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, Excretion

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