gastrointestinal side-effects

Last reviewed 01/2018

There are upper and lower gastrointestinal side-effects of aspirin:

Upper gastrointestinal side effects include:

  • heartburn
  • stomach pain
  • nausea

The incidence of these side-effects is increased by:

  • increasing dose of aspirin
  • plain aspirin rather than enteric coated aspirin
  • a high frequency of doses e.g. > 1 dose per day

The risk of a serious gastrointestinal bleed requiring hospitalisation or causing death is higher in those taking aspirin regularly.

A notable lower gastrointestinal side-effect is constipation:

  • there is a 3-4 fold increase in constipation (up to 7% in patients receiving 1.2 g of aspirin per day)
  • there is no clear dose-dependency