Aspirin – A Popular Headache Pain Relief Medication

For the past 2,500 years, aspirin has been used in cultures all over the world as a pain relief medication. Hippocrates, the famed Greek doctor in 5th century B.C., extracted aspirin from the bark of a willow tree as a way to reduce fevers. The aspirin extracted from the willow tree bark has salacin, a chemical that the body converts into salicylic acid. Towards the end of the 19th century, Bayer, a German pharmaceutical company, introduced acetylsalicylic acid (or simply aspirin) that was made by Felix Hoffman, a chemist. Aspirin is a very widely used product, with more than 80 billion tablets of it sold annually. It is one of the most popular over-the-counter headache pain relief medications used today.

Aspirin is quite simple to manufacture, which is good news because it does contain many properties that can only be identified by those who are in the biochemical field. There are very few people who suffer from side effects when they use aspirin for treating their headaches. Aspirin is used to treat various ailments in addition to headaches including inflammation, heart disease, and fevers. It is important that aspirin be used as directed because taking too much aspirin is not good for the body.

When a person is injured, the brain quickly sends messages to the nerve endings. A rush of blood is sent to the area to surround the damaged tissues. This is what causes the immediate swelling in the area. The hormone prostaglandin is released and this hormone tells the body that there is pain taking place.

There is some mystery still, though, about how the body is able to signal pain when a person experiences a headache. For more than two decades, doctors and medical professionals believed that tension headaches were caused by muscle tension in various parts of the body including the neck, back and face. The research that has been conducted since then indicates that tension headaches may be due to the combination of tension and serotonin in the body mixing with nerve cells.

How Does Aspirin Work

Aspirin works by suppressing the cells responsible for making prostaglandin. It does this by stopping the enzyme known as COX from binding with the prostaglandins. The kidneys continue to filter out this product, however, and that is why taking more aspirin is needed to help keep the pain at bay. It is not advisable to consume too much aspirin because doing so can remove too much prostaglandin from the body. This can lead to the thinning of the stomach lining and the onset of chronic stomach pains or even ulcers. It is possible to overdose on aspirin and this can cause serious issues. Aspirin can damage the kidneys.

Aspirin is known to help thin the blood so it can prevent heart attacks. However, this anti-coagulating property of aspirin also prevents the blood from clotting normally. If you take aspirin regularly, you need to be very careful with nose bleeds and cuts.

Page Updated: November 12, 2016
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