What Should I do About an Aspirin Overdose?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Aspirin overdose is an extremely serious and potentially life-threatening condition and there are two forms of which people should be aware. In acute aspirin poisoning a person takes far more than the recommended (in an adult about 20 325 mg tablets) dosage, causing immediate poisoning. Another form of aspirin overdose is called chronic overdose and occurs when people take aspirin regularly. Especially in hot conditions, dehydration may result in residual amounts of aspirin not clearing properly from the body, and this can cause toxicity. The chronic form is usually more likely in those people who take aspirin therapy and who have poor kidney function.

Multiple aspirin tablets.
Multiple aspirin tablets.

The regular dose of aspirin for most adults is 325-650 mg every four to six hours. In children, aspirin is not recommended, though some kids with heart conditions may be on very low dose amounts to prevent blood clotting. Low dose aspirin is usually approximately 80 mg per day, and may be sold as low dose or “baby” aspirin. For most kids, using this medication is not advisable because of the risk of developing certain conditions like Reye’s syndrome.

Charcoal tablets for treating aspirin overdose.
Charcoal tablets for treating aspirin overdose.

Most cases of acute aspirin overdose are intentional, and there are several symptoms people may recognize that can occur within a few hours of the overdose. In acute overdose, people may have extreme stomach pain, nausea and/or vomiting. If the amount taken is very high other symptoms like ringing in the ears, dizziness or drowsiness, hyperactive behavior, seizures and coma can be present. People might recognize signs of chronic overdose if a person is fatigued, has a mild fever, is breathing rapidly or has a fast heartbeat, and if the person acts confused or faints.

Aspirin overdose is a medical emergency.
Aspirin overdose is a medical emergency.

Both types of aspirin overdose are medical emergencies and need immediate medical attention. When people suspect overdose they should call emergency services right away and try to keep the person who has overdosed calm. They should not offer food or water to that person, and it is not advisable to induce vomiting, which may do more harm than good. In most cases, people should wait for emergency services to arrive instead of attempting to take an overdose victim to the emergency room.


One of the difficulties with aspirin overdose is that there is no immediate antidote to it. In the hospital, people may be given charcoal, may be watched for developing symptoms, and might require dialysis to remove aspirin from the blood stream. There is no adequate home treatment that can replace hospital care, but even hospital care may sometimes be ineffective if the overdose has been ignored for several hours.

Acute aspirin overdose can cause extreme stomach pain.
Acute aspirin overdose can cause extreme stomach pain.

When people call emergency services, they can help greatly by having some information on hand. If they know the amount taken, the time the aspirin was taken, and the approximate weight and height of the overdose victim, this is great information to give a dispatch worker. It isn’t always possible to know this, but whatever extra information can be given may prove helpful.

An adult would have to inject 20 or more aspirin tablets to experience an acute aspirin overdose.
An adult would have to inject 20 or more aspirin tablets to experience an acute aspirin overdose.

For parents, a special caution exists. Many companies still make forms of baby aspirin that are chewable. These tend to taste good to kids and make aspirin overdose more likely. If there are adults (or kids with heart defects) that use the chewable form, keep these medications far out of reach of other children. An alternative is to use adult low dose aspirin, which is a small easy to swallow pill that doesn’t have an attractive taste. In either case, this medication and all others should not be anywhere near children.

Patients hospitalized for an aspirin overdose may receive dialysis to remove the aspirin from the bloodstream.
Patients hospitalized for an aspirin overdose may receive dialysis to remove the aspirin from the bloodstream.
An aspirin overdose may cause a person to go into coma.
An aspirin overdose may cause a person to go into coma.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


I overdosed on low dose aspirin about five or six hours ago. I took over 90. My grandmother knows, yet thinks I'm fine not to go to the hospital. Is it safe not to? Or should I go?


I took 20 aspirin in an attempt to shut down my kidneys and die - someone told me it would work. Rather, I woke up with awful stomach pains, vomiting, ringing in my ears, nausea and gas buildup.

Two days later, I am able to urinate, but am still vomiting. I am too afraid to tell my mom what I did, so I can't go to a hospital. Will this go away soon?


Three days ago, I took a few soluble aspirin tablets and downed them with alcohol. I was very sick for 24 hours, and got better, but am still quite sick with nausea, fatigue, confusion, bloating, sore muscles, sore stomach and dizziness. Will I be fine and get over it or should I maybe go see a doctor?


Once I accidentally took a low dose aspirin! I was 10. Can this cause any effects for me?


I took a whole bottle of aspirin when I was between two and four. One day I woke up feeling lousy, tired and slow. Just like that! It's stayed with me for 50 years! I was unable to concentrate in school and even was yelled at by my teacher. She made me sit on the floor while the other kids went to lunch. I got into fights and felt stressed out.

My muscles are very sore to the touch. and it feels like I can't breathe because the muscles around my lungs are so tight. I have to struggle to take a nice deep breath and I have to forcefully hack every 5-10 minutes because I get this tickle in my throat.

I have big time "allergies" which six months of shots have not helped alleviate. My doctor has given up on me.


Aspirin gives up a proton in alkaline medium but in stomach, it keeps its proton so it is non ionized, which helps it cross into cell membranes of blood stream easily. When it gets to intestine, the alkaline medium ionizes it and absorption is limited. I was taught in advanced pharm that an amp of sodium bicarb will trap the asa because Asa is an acid drug.


I overdosed on who knows how many aspirins. After 30 I lost count. I lost my hearing for three days, but never vomited or fainted. Never got any kind of treatment.

Now years later, if I get angry during the day, at night I wake up not knowing where I am, my body is very very tense and I don't recognize my surroundings. This always happens exactly one hour after I go to sleep. Anyone have any advice?


I took 100-120 aspirins. I delayed going to the hospital for over five hours. I was in intensive care for 24 hours, and the ward sister said I was lucky to survive. I was soaking wet (sweating), confused, and my heartbeat seemed to be like a hammering in my head. I suffered ringing in my ears for a couple of days. It was painless though.


How many aspirin does it take to overdose? I want to know so I can avoid ever accidentally overdosing. According to my doctor, I am at risk for acetaminophen toxicity, and I need to be really careful with both aspirin and NSAIDs.

So how much aspirin to overdose if you're a 20-something, 175 pound male if your're at risk for toxicity?


@rallenwriter -- Well as the article said, there's no appropriate home aspirin overdose treatment.

If your child does take an overdose of aspirin, you should call poison control and be ready to give them the age and weight of the child, the amount of aspirin taken, and how long ago it was taken. You should also have the bottle handy so you can tell them the name of the medicine, the dosage, and the ingredients in it.

They will probably tell you to take the child to the ER, where the treatment of an aspirin overdose usually consists of fluids, laxatives, artificial respiration, and in some cases a stomach pump.


What is a good home treatment for aspirin overdose?

I know that the article said there's no immediate aspirin overdose antidote, but is there something I can do if my kid accidentally swallows a bottle?


When I was 4 years old I swallowed a bottle of aspirins. I was not taken to hospital, but given a multitude of things to make me vomit. I guess in about 12 hours I was OK. I want to know if there could be any permanent damage done to organs or anything because of this.

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