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Aspirin Facts

August 13, 1997|THE WASHINGTON POST

Americans prefer aspirin tablets that can be swallowed or chewed.

* Italians like to down their aspirin in a fizzy liquid, similar to drinking Alka-Seltzer.

* The British most often choose aspirin powders that are dissolved in water.

* The French use more aspirin suppositories than pills.

* It takes 20 to 30 minutes for two aspirin to begin entering the bloodstream. Food will slow its absorption. Peak levels of aspirin generally occur about two hours after the drug has been taken.

* Many people think that milk helps "coat" the stomach, thereby reducing the risk of developing ulcers. Not so. The lactic acid in milk actually accentuates the natural acidity of aspirin.

* Don't try to short-circuit a hangover by taking aspirin with alcohol. Aspirin enhances the irritation effect in the gastrointestinal tract, and increases the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Sources: Lee Simon, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School; Debra Bowen, of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research; Joe Graedon, author of "The Aspirin Handbook" (Bantam Books, 1993).

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