Aspirin is an internal analgesic available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that temporarily relieve minor aches and pains and reduce fevers. Aspirin is also available in prescription medicines in combination with other ingredients. On some prescription labels, aspirin may be abbreviated as ASA or spelled out as acetylsalicylic acid. It is never abbreviated on an OTC medicine Drug Facts label. Aspirin is part of a group of pain relievers and fever reducers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Aspirin can be found in single-ingredient oral pain relievers and fever reducers or in medicines that contain more than one active ingredient to treat migraines. It also is available in medicines that not only relieve pain or reduce fever, but treat additional symptoms as well, such as heartburn and upset stomach, occasional sleeplessness, or the multiple symptoms of the common cold.
Aspirin is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to the Drug Facts label. But aspirin may not be appropriate for everyone. Parents and other caregivers should never give a medicine containing aspirin to a child or teenager who has or is recovering from chicken pox or flu, because a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome is reported to be associated with aspirin.