How do salicylates work?
Salicylates are medications used to treat pain, fever, and inflammation. Salicylates are one of the oldest and most commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Salicylates such as aspirin inhibit platelet aggregation, reduce blood clotting, and hence are protective against heart disease.
Salicylates reduce fever by working on the brain’s hypothalamus region, which regulates body temperature. Salicylates reduce inflammation by inhibiting the activity of enzymes known as cyclooxygenases (COX-1 and COX-2), essential for the biosynthesis of prostaglandin.
Prostaglandin is a fatty compound produced all over the body except red blood cells. Prostaglandins have many functions that include initiating inflammation, protecting the stomach lining from stomach acids, maintaining kidney function, and regulating blood clotting.
How are salicylates used?
Some salicylates need a prescription, but most can be obtained over the counter. Salicylates are taken orally and are available in many strengths and forms such as capsules, extended-release capsules, tablets, chewable tablets, and enteric-coated tablets.
Salicylates are usually a part of the treatment in conditions that include:
- Mild to moderate pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): An autoimmune inflammatory joint condition.
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis: Childhood RA.
- Osteoarthritis: An age-related degenerative joint disease.
- Kawasaki disease: A condition that causes inflammation in the walls of arteries, primarily in children. Aspirin is used to reduce fever in the early stages of the disease.
- Acute coronary syndrome: Aspirin is commonly used as part of the treatment for acute coronary syndromes such as heart attack (myocardial infarction), to improve blood flow to the heart.
- Cardiovascular disease: Low-dose aspirin may be prescribed as prophylaxis for people at high risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) but not at risk for increased bleeding.
- Ischemic stroke/transient ischemic attack (TIA): Aspirin is used to improve blood flow after strokes caused by the reduced blood supply to the brain.
- Colorectal cancer: Aspirin is used off-label to reduce the risk of developing hereditary colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).
What are side effects of salicylates?
Side effects of salicylates may include the following:
- Angioedema (swelling in the tissue under the skin or mucous membranes)
- Effects on the central nervous system
- Dermatologic problems
- Gastrointestinal pain
- Gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding
- Hepatotoxicity (toxicity to the liver)
- Hearing impairment
- Hearing loss
- Inhibition of platelet aggregation (slower blood clotting)
- Premature hemolysis (red cell death)
- Salicylate-induced pulmonary edema
- Urticaria (hives)
- Kidney damage
- Exacerbation of asthma
- Anaphylactic reactions
Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.
What are names of some salicylate drugs?
Generic and brand names of salicylate drugs include:
- acetylsalicylic acid
- Bayer Advanced Aspirin
- Bayer Buffered Aspirin
- Bayer Children's Aspirin
- Bayer Extra Strength
- Bayer Extra Strength Plus
- Bayer Low Adult Strength
- Bayer Women's Low Dose
- Bufferin Extra Strength
- Doan's Extra Strength
- Ecotrin Maximum Strength
- Extended-Release Bayer 8-Hour Caplets
- Extra Strength Bayer Plus Caplets
- Genuine Bayer Aspirin
- Halfprin DSC
- magnesium salicylate
- Maximum Bayer Aspirin
- Percogesic Maximum Strength Backache Relief
- St. Joseph Adult Chewable Aspirin
- St. Joseph Regular Strength
Pain Management Resources