How to Diagnose Aspirin Poisoning

Three Methods:Noticing the Symptoms of Aspirin PoisoningGetting Tested for Aspirin PoisoningDetermining the Type of Aspirin Poisoning You Have

Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat fever, pain, and inflammation. It also helps prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Like all medications, there is a proper dose of aspirin you should take so it doesn’t cause any harm; however, if you think you have taken too much or feel strange after taking some, you may possibly have symptoms of aspirin poisoning.

Method 1
Noticing the Symptoms of Aspirin Poisoning

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    Notice early signs of acute aspirin poisoning. There are different levels of symptoms that can occur, depending on how bad your aspirin poisoning is or how long it’s been since you took too much. If you think you have symptoms of aspirin poisoning, even a mild case due to the risk of progression without treatment, you should sees medical treatment immediately, and do not hesitate to call 911. The possible symptoms of acute aspirin poisoning include:[1][2]
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Rapid breathing
    • Ringing in your ears, which can be high or low pitched, loud or more quiet, and is usually at one tone
    • Sweating
    • Impaired hearing with or without ringing
    • Slight fever
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    Recognize later signs of acute aspirin poisoning. There are some symptoms that develop at a later point of aspirin poisoning. These signs indicate that you have severe aspirin poisoning. You should call emergency services immediately. Symptoms to look for are:[3][4]
    • Confusion
    • Hyperactivity
    • Lightheadedness
    • Fever
    • Drowsiness
    • Low blood pressure
    • Convulsions or seizures
    • Kidney failure
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Rapid pulse higher than 120 beats per minute
    • Double vision
    • Difficulty walking
    • Coma
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    Determine the symptoms of chronic aspirin poisoning. Chronic aspirin poisoning symptoms occur over the course of a few days to a few weeks. These can come on gradually and are very severe, especially once you witness them all. If you or someone you know has them all, call emergency services immediately. These symptoms include:[5]
    • Drowsiness
    • Hallucinations
    • Slight confusion
    • Rapid breathing
    • Dehydration
    • Fever
    • Low oxygen levels in the blood
    • Fluid in the lungs
    • Lightheadedness
    • Low blood pressure
    • Seizures
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    Learn the normal side effects of aspirin. There are some normal side effects of aspirin that might happen before you get aspirin poisoning. These may occur at any point, even with a normal dose of aspirin. Although some of the side effects of taking aspirin are the same as those of aspirin poisoning, the symptoms of poisoning will be more severe and accompanied by numerous other symptoms. If you are worried that you might be heading for aspirin poisoning, you can contact your doctor. These include:[6]
    • Skin rashes
    • Excessive bleeding
    • Abdominal pain
    • Upset stomach
    • Stomach and intestinal ulcers which can present as acute abdominal pain, or vomiting blood or blood in the stools
    • Nausea
    • Cramping
    • Gastritis
    • Heartburn
    • Drowsiness
    • Headache

Method 2
Getting Tested for Aspirin Poisoning

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    Take a blood test. Once you go to the doctor or hospital with suspected aspirin poisoning, your doctor will perform a blood test. This will test the precise level of aspirin in your blood. This will let your doctor know if your symptoms are because of the excessive amounts of aspirin in your blood.[7]
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    Determine your overall health. Due to the severity of many of the symptoms of aspirin poisoning, your doctor will do an overall check of your vitals and organ systems. This will tell your doctor whether or not you need care for your symptoms, such as for your cardiac or pulmonary systems.
    • This will include checking your temperature, breath and heart sounds, and alertness.[8]
    • Routine blood work will also be ordered to assess for anemia, and kidney function.
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    Check additional levels in your blood. Once your doctor determines the levels of aspirin in your blood, there are other levels to be checked. Your doctor may take additional blood samples to check your blood pH, which will show the amount of acid in your blood.
    • Your doctor will also look for any amounts of carbon dioxide or bicarbonate in your blood.[9]
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    Give your medical history to your doctor. When you go in for treatment for aspirin poisoning, your doctor will ask you for a history of what medications you have been taking. This will help your doctor determine if you have been taking medications with aspirin and at what concentrations.
    • Your doctor will also ask you about any medication conditions you have in order to determine if this contributed to your aspirin poisoning.[10]
    • Be sure to bring a list of medications to the doctor, and be prepared with the dosages taken. You can also bring the actual medication bottles with you so the doctors can be sure what was actually consumed.
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    Continue to check your blood levels. When you are undergoing treatment, your doctor will continue to check your blood levels. This will let your doctor know if you are responding to treatment, if you need to continue treatment, and if you are out of the woods with symptoms. [11]

Method 3
Determining the Type of Aspirin Poisoning You Have

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    Determine if you have acute aspirin poisoning. There are two different types of aspirin poisoning. The first is acute aspirin poisoning, sometimes called rapid aspirin poisoning, that occurs when you get too much of the acetylsalicylic acid at one time. This requires a very large dose of aspirin at one time, which means that this type of aspirin overdose is rarely accidental.
    • For example, a 150 pound person would have to take more than 30 tablets of 325 mg aspirin to even develop a mild case of acute aspirin poisoning.[12]
    • This type most commonly happens through intentional overdose (suicide attempt) or accidental overdose (either children or adult).
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    Recognize if you have chronic aspirin poisoning. The other type of aspirin poisoning is chronic aspirin poisoning. This happens gradually when you unintentionally take a larger than recommended dose aspirin over a period of days. This can happen accidentally for people of all ages if they are given too much.
    • Adults may also easily develop this type of poisoning over the course of several weeks because they take too much aspirin each day.[13]
    • This commonly happens by either taking too much aspirin as a preventative measure against heart attack or a result of medication interactions causing the aspirin to metabolize differently.
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    Look for common products with aspirin. One way that you may develop aspirin poisoning is to not know that a product contains aspirin. Wintergreen oil, which contains aspirin, is used in skin treatments and is highly toxic if even a small amount is swallowed.[14] There are also many over the counter medications that have aspirins in them. These include:
    • Alka Seltzer
    • Bayer
    • Excedrin
    • Percodan
    • Anacin
    • Bufferin
    • Ecotrin
    • Fiorinal
    • St. Joseph's[15]
    • Pepto-Bismol[16]
    • Kaopectate
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    Get treated for aspirin poisoning. Treatment will depend on how long ago you consumed the aspirin, how much you consumed, and if your poisoning is acute or chronic. Treatment may include activated charcoal (this works best if it is taken within four hours of the ingestion of aspirin), stomach pumping, whole bowel irrigation, sodium bicarbonate, hemodialysis, and/or urinary alkalinization.
    • It may also be necessary to treat secondary symptoms of aspirin poisoning, such as hyperthermia, seizures, and dehydration.


  • The number for Poison Control in the US is 1-800-222-1222.


  • Children and teenagers should never be given aspirin for fever or when displaying flu-like symptoms.

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Categories: First Aid and Emergencies