Aspirin Overdose – How Much Is Too Much?

An aspirin overdose is something of a rarity unless it is done intentionally. In fact, it is almost impossible to overdose on aspirin unless one has a fairly large number of tablets on hand. Just when a dose of aspirin is considered toxic depends upon a number of things, including the person's weight, their general health, and how much aspirin they've consumed during the previous 24 hours.

A Tablet A day – Quite All Right

A physician will sometimes prescribe a low-dose aspirin tablet once a day for heart patients as a means in helping prevent heart attacks and strokes. A person who rarely takes aspirin might worry about all of a sudden taking a tablet a day. There's no need to be worried, since the amount of aspirin needed for an overdose is on the order of 100 times the dosage contained in a single regular strength tablet. The only times a doctor might not feel comfortable in prescribing a daily regimen of aspirin is when the patient suffers severe kidney disease or is on certain medications.

How Much Is Too Much?

Just how much aspirin constitutes an aspirin overdose? A mild overdose would usually consist of between 30 and 60 milligrams of aspirin per pound of body weight. Anything over 100 milligrams of aspirin per pound of body weight would be considered a severe overdose, an overdose requiring immediate medical attention. A normal aspirin tablet normally contains 80 milligrams of aspirin, while a low dose or child's dose contains 60 milligrams. So, you can do the math to see how much aspirin you would need to take, based upon your body weight, to overdose. If you weigh 150 pounds, a box of 150 low dose tablets may or may not do the trick.

Good Tasting Aspirin Comes In Small Boxes

Perhaps you've wondered why candy-coated or chewable aspirin is usually not sold in boxes or bottles containing more than 36 tablets. The reason is simple. A small child, who finds a sugar coated aspirin tablet tastes good, might just decide that a bottle full of the tablets would taste even better. 36 tablets would normally not be nearly enough to be toxic to even a small child. Still, any time a toddler decides to swallow a bottle of aspirin, a trip to the emergency room would be a wise thing to do. Just remember, toddlers, and not too many adults for that matter, are not going to swallow a large bottle of regular aspirin tablets without drinking a lot of water at the same time. Something a toddler is unlikely to do.

Admittedly a toddler, or any child under 6 years old or so will be at a higher risk of aspirin toxicity, meaning the level of toxicity could be somewhat less than 30 milligrams per pound of body weight. The same applies to those over 70, those in poor health, and people suffering from dehydration, kidney disease, or alcoholism. Continuous use of aspirin – more than the dosage a doctor might prescribe – could also lead to toxicity since the presence of aspirin in the body can have a cumulative effect.

Symptoms Of Aspirin Overdose

If one experiences a mild case of aspirin toxicity, the symptoms may be limited to a case of heartburn, a slight case of nausea, or a bout of indigestion. A more severe case, one of major toxicity, could result in vomiting. A person who has taken a major overdose may begin vomiting blood, experiencing dizziness, seizures, or hallucinations, experience a rapid loss in blood pressure, and might even slip into a coma. The symptoms of a major overdose should be regarded as indicating a life-threatening situation exists.

Having said all of this, aspirin is one of the safest drugs there is. There is no reason to avoid keeping a box or bottle of it in the medicine cabinet unless there is someone in the household who might consider overdosing. About the only problem we ever encounter when taking aspirin is an occasional bout of stomach irritation. This can easily be avoided either by taking aspirin with food or by using coated, buffered, or delayed-release tablets. Coated tablets are designed to dissolve in the intestine, where they are most effective. Taking a pill with water is easiest way for most people to take a pill.

An Alternative – Willow Bark

As mentioned previously, aspirin is one of the safest drugs one can take. It is one of the most heavily studied drugs, and comes close to being legitimately called a miracle drug. It could be said to have its roots in ancient Greece, where the people, not yet having aspirin tablets, made do by chewing willow bark to relieve pain and fever. Willow bark contains a compound essentially the same as acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin. It wasn't until near the end of the 19th century that the Bayer company in Germany first distributed what we know today as aspirin, though initially it was available as a powder rather than in a tablet form. Aspirin tablets first hit the marketplace in 1915.