Sue's Blog

Aspirin, dietary salicylates and Nurofen side-effects


  • new study finds daily aspirin doesn’t prevent cardiovascular disease, and that
  • side effects of aspirin can include serious bleeding such as stroke.
  • failsafers say problems with aspirin suggests problems with dietary salicylates

Older adults often take daily low dose aspirin to reduce their risk of heart attacks, as failsafer Gail reported:

“The doctor says my husband should take an aspirin every day for his heart but since he started he has become grumpy and forgetful. We've been married for more than 50 years but the way he is now, I don't want to live with him any more … “ [1132]

Gail had already seen her grandson become “irritable and …with a vile temper” when he eats salicylates in fruit, and now she sees similar symptoms in her husband. However, according to a new study, the risks of daily aspirin in healthy seniors can be much more serious than bad behaviour.

New study

A seven-year study from Melbourne’s Monash University with 19,000 healthy adults aged over 69, found that taking 100 milligrams of aspirin a day:

  • didn't prolong their life
  • didn’t significantly reduce the risk of a first heart attack or stroke
  • increased the risk of major haemorrhage (bleeding that can lead to a stroke) 

Lead researcher Professor John McNeil from Monash University said the results of the study should prompt people who take aspirin - when they have no medical reason for doing so - to reconsider whether it is a good idea. (This doesn’t apply to people taking aspirin on medical advice, such as those who have had a heart attack or stroke.)

A low salicylate diet

Failsafers don’t take aspirin because it is a salicylate. According to the RPAH elimination diet handbook:

"Avoid unnecessary medication … Don't take anything containing aspirin ... No NSAIDs [includes Nurofen, ibuprofen] are suitable while on an elimination diet, since they can cross react with aspirin ..." 

For salicylate sensitive seniors who need blood-thinning medication, clopidogrel is a suitable alternative, see p115 - 116 RPAH Elimination Diet Handbook

Some side effects of aspirin, salicylates and Nurofen (ibuprofen)

Pain, cramps, nausea, rashes/hives, difficulty breathing

I had an heart attack at the age of 48 and was told that I would be taking aspirin every day for the rest of my life ... My health gradually declined, with pain, cramps, nausea, and rashes/hives ... until a consultant suggested cutting out the aspirin ... 

Later, after eating blackberries ... covered in hives and rashes, I had difficulty breathing and was eventually taken to Accident & Emergency in an ambulance ... My partner discovered that blackberries are very high in salicylates which is also the reason that people have an allergic reaction to aspirin. When I mentioned this at A&E they seemed totally unaware of this link, and carried on treating me for a suspected heart attack ...

My doctor has now advised me not to take anti-inflammatories as they are likely to contain salicylates ...  Why was it not obvious to trained medical staff that if you have an allergic reaction to aspirin, it is quite likely that it is because of salicylates and that care should then be taken when prescribing further medicines?  - from story [1386]

Bleeding (is a well-known side-effect of aspirin)

My husband has a rare disorder called Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT) which causes his capillaries to balloon and bleed easily …  like all HHT sufferers, nosebleeds have always been part of his life. He has had far fewer nosebleeds since he's avoided dietary salicylates …– from story [387]

Aspirin-induced asthma

I have Samter’s Syndrome (consisting of asthma, aspirin sensitivity and nasal polyps) also known as Samter’s Triad or aspirin-induced asthma. For the last 29 years I have been taking medications and trying to stay alive. When I found the Australian salicylate lists I was so excited, I could finally understand what was happening. I was inadvertently eating salicylates every day – from story [994] from the USA

Urticaria (hives)

Thanks to your book Fed Up I discovered at the age of 17 that my chronic hives (urticaria) were due to dietary salicylates. But it wasn't until I inadvertently took an aspirin tablet at the age of 25 … that I realised how sensitive I am. As well as the usual hives, my face and throat swelled so much I had to hold my head right back in order to breathe. (WARNING: salicylate responders beware: it is possible to die from one aspirin tablet. If this happens to you call an ambulance or have someone take you to the nearest ER as quickly as possible.) – from story [1144]


  • I'm an audiologist …  at uni we learn about aspirin potentially being a cause of tinnitus– Jackie
  • Sals = tinnitus for me.– Sally
  • If I overload on higher (mod-high) salicylates I get ear ringing when I lay my head down to go to sleep – Serena  - from story [1477]

Irritable bowel symptoms

My son began getting diarrhoea and severe stomach pains from tomatoes and other high salicylate foods upon introduction of these foods from 6 months. My GP wasn’t concerned about my son having constant foaming revolting smelling poo for three months … Thank you for your wonderful website which helped us to sort out this problem. He has shown similar reactions to salicylates in foods as he has to Nurofen – stomach pain that makes him scream for hours in agony and diarrhoea within 24 hours – from story [624]

Irrational, aggressive, anxiety attack

My husband had a serious tooth ache … He was taking Panadol and needed more relief, so I gave him some Nurofen. Well, within 5-10 minutes, he was irrational and aggressive, along with a huge anxiety attack. He then took some more two days later with the same reaction – from story [625]

More information

ABC article Daily aspirin doesn’t prevent cardiovascular disease

Introduction to food intolerance

Salicylates factsheet - there are numerous less-than-accurate salicylate lists on the internet. The only figures we support are the updated lists from Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit, see the RPAH elimination diet handbook. -  you can request our salicylate mistakes information sheet: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.