What side effects of salicylate require emergency care?

Dr. Elif E. Oker, MD
Medical Toxicology

Aspirin is the best known salicylate. Salicylates are also found in many other over the counter medications including anti-diarrheal medication and topical medications used to treat acne or muscle aches. Brand names include Ben-Gay, Pepto-Bismol, Oil of Wintergreen.

One side effect of aspirin that requires emergency care is an allergic reaction. People who are allergic to aspirin may experience a rash, hives and difficulty breathing.

Aspirin is also quite dangerous when taken in large amounts. Aspirin overdose requires immediate emergency care. Early on patients may report nausea, vomiting, sweating and ringing in the ears (tinnitus) while dizziness, confusion and rapid breathing and rapid heart rate occur later. Aspirin overdose can damage vital organs and, without treatment, result in death. 

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