3 Surprising Ways to Take Aspirin

Ease your pain and save your life with one of these three creative ways to benefit the most from your aspirin.

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There are plenty of good reasons why aspirin is one of the most popular medicines in history. It can ease a headache, soothe joint pains and might even save your life during a heart attack. But just swallowing your aspirin with a glass of water may not be the most effective way to help you feel better, fast. Depending on what problem you're having, try one of these three creative ways to get the most benefit from your aspirin.

1. Chew It
Most heart attacks occur when a blood clot forms in an artery that feeds heart muscle, starving the cells of oxygen. Aspirin works by preventing platelets from clumping together, and only a small amount is needed to decrease clot formation.

During a heart attack, the clot grows larger every minute, so time is precious. Getting the aspirin into your system as quickly as possible can help save heart muscle from dying. The fastest way to get aspirin into your bloodstream is to chew it. If you are having symptoms of a heart attack (including pain or pressure in your chest, arm, jaw or back, shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, nausea), one of the first things you should do after seeking help immediately is to chew and swallow 325 mg of aspirin. This is equal to one regular aspirin, or about four baby aspirins.

Chewed aspirin has been shown in studies to work about twice as fast as swallowed aspirin. So keep a couple aspirin close at hand, including near the bed, in the car and at work.

2. Rub It On
If you have joint pain, topical aspirin may be a good way to get relief without risking the stomach upset that sometimes comes from swallowing the pills. Plus, rubbing it on allows the medicine to be absorbed closer to the source of your pain and may provide faster relief.

To give this trick a go, try a topical aspirin cream – look for "salicylate" on the label. Creams and solutions containing salicylate have been shown to improve discomfort and dexterity in patients with joint pain, including in some people with rheumatoid arthritis. Patients using topical treatments reported that it kicked in faster and caused fewer side effects compared to those who took aspirin orally.

3. Drink It
Did you know aspirin is one of the main ingredients in effervescent tablets such as original Alka-Seltzer? Dropping these fizzy tablets in water and drinking it down may help dull pain and also act as an antacid, which is why it can be used for both headaches and upset stomachs.

Studies suggest that these effervescent tablets are absorbed faster than swallowed aspirin, and they certainly taste better than chewing up your aspirin. They may also be easier on your stomach than the plain pills.