What is a hidden danger of aspirin

Aspirin does not belong in a first-aid kit

07.06.2009

Ibuprofen or paracetamol are better suited for a trip to the tropics ...

The Association of German Internists (BDI) advises travelers to tropical regions not to take aspirin with acute illnesses. The reason is the active ingredient acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) it contains, which can worsen the effects of certain tropical infectious diseases.

ASA is primarily used against pain and inflammation, as well as for blood thinning, e.g. in patients with circulatory disorders or after a heart attack. Here it prevents certain blood cells - the platelets - from attaching to one another, making it difficult for blood clots to form. However, it also promotes the tendency to bleed. “Taking ASA increases the risk of bleeding in some tropical infections such as dengue fever. In addition, ASA can increase a drop in blood platelets in the event of an infection, a dreaded side effect of severe malaria, "warns Prof. Thomas Löscher from the BDI and head of the Munich Tropical Institute.

Study: platelets destroy infected blood cells

In experiments with cell cultures, Australian scientists recently discovered how important the blood platelets, the so-called thrombocytes, can be in the course of a malaria infection. Accordingly, the blood platelets preferentially bind to the red blood cells that are infected by the malaria pathogen and kill the parasites (Science 2009, Volume 323: page 797). In addition, mice treated with ASA died more often from the infection. However, it is still unclear whether this effect of ASA also influences the course of the disease in humans.

"In any case, ASA has no place in the first-aid kit of tropical vacationers - unless a doctor has prescribed low-dose ASA intake (up to 100 milligrams per day) for circulatory disorders in the coronary arteries or other blood vessels," advises Prof. Löscher In particular in areas where malaria, dengue fever and hemorrhagic fever such as Ebola or Marburg fever occur, ASA intake is not recommended: "Basically, in risk areas, agents such as paracetamol or ibuprofen are better suited as fever-lowering agents" , so the infection and tropical medicine.