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How Do I Choose the Correct Aspirin Strength?

By Gregory Hanson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Choosing the right aspirin strength involves combining information about the individual patient who is taking aspirin with information about the specific condition being treated. Children, and some very small adults, need a lower dosage of aspirin, while adults require more medicine to achieve the same results. Aspirin is used both for pain relief and for to maintain heart health, and the appropriate dosages for these applications are quite different. In some cases, aspirin may be used as part of a multiple-drug treatment program, and the dosage of aspirin required is affected by the other drugs being administered.

When determining the correct aspirin strength, a consumer should focus on the amount of aspirin, rather than any packaging or labeling. All aspirin has the same chemical composition and works in the same way. Two pills containing 200 mg each will yield precisely the same dosage as a single "extra-strength" pill containing 400 mg of aspirin. The only major exception to this rule concerns certain time-release products, which allow aspirin to be introduced into the body over a longer period of time at a steady rate.

Children require smaller doses of aspirin than adults and should not normally take aspirin at all without consulting a doctor. The smaller dosage requirement is largely a result of the fact that children have smaller bodies and require less medication to produce the same level of medication in the bloodstream. Some small adults may also require less than the standard aspirin dosage.

The correct aspirin strength for pain relief is typically much higher than that for heart health. A typical man or woman can safely take up to 12 325-mg tablets of aspirin over a 24-hour period, provided that the tablets are spaced evenly. Larger dosages of aspirin can build up in the body and may cause complications. These large dosages should be avoided unless acting on the instructions of a physician.

A lower dosage of aspirin is required for heart health maintenance. 81 mg per day is a common aspirin dosage for this purpose. For most patients, this lower dosage is sufficient to provide the protection that aspirin can provide to the cardiovascular system. A lower aspirin strength minimizes the side effects of aspirin, as well. A specific dosage plan should always be worked out with advice from a medical professional.

Some specialized medications combine aspirin with other drugs. Each of these drugs functions differently, and the chemical properties of all the components of the medication must be taken into account when computing the correct dosage. Each such product, whether sold directly to consumers or prescribed by a doctor, should include specific dosage information.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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