Aspirin is an over-the-counter medication often taken for muscle or arthritis pain. It also decreases swelling and brings down a temperature when you have a fever. Along with its anti-inflammatory effects, it’s also used in low doses as a daily medication to help thin the blood and prevent a heart attack or stroke.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a class of medications that include aspirin, as well as ibuprofen and naproxen. As with other NSAIDs, aspirin works best when you take it with food. But in the morning, as you sit down for breakfast, you may be wondering if it’s safe to take aspirin with your morning cup of coffee. Can you combine caffeine and aspirin?
Is it safe to take coffee and aspirin together?
Caffeine is a stimulant, which is why so many love to wake up to a cup of joe in the morning. There are certain considerations to keep in mind when combining the aspirin and coffee.
Together with aspirin, caffeine makes a good combination to treat certain health conditions, such as tension headaches and migraines.
Medications that contain both aspirin and caffeine include:
Aspirin and caffeine together gained popularity because of the connection to headaches. “People don’t realize they’re having caffeine withdrawal headaches, or they’re prone to migraines,” explains Niket Sonpal, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Touro College of Medicine. “So they take aspirin and caffeine together.” Combined, these two decrease the constriction in the blood vessels in the brain and often make headaches go away.
But Dr. Sonpal cautions that drinking coffee and taking your aspirin on an empty stomach can make you more prone to bleeding. Aspirin makes your platelets not stick as well, which is why many people take it for heart health. It can help prevent blood clots from forming in your vessels. While this is good for thinning your blood and decreasing the chances of heart attack, it might also increase your chance of bleeding. On Oct. 13, 2021, a federal advisory panel said people over age 60 should not start taking aspirin for heart disease because the risk of bleeding outweighs the benefits. People ages 40 to 59 should discuss it with their clinicians. Let your physician know if after starting on aspirin you have abdominal pain or blood in your stool.
Another thing to be aware of is that salicylates are found in both aspirin and coffee. Salicylates are found naturally in many plants and have been used for thousands of years as a medicine to treat pain and fevers.
Since both contain salicylates, when you combine them it’s possible you could consume more than your body can handle—especially if you have salicylate sensitivity. Then, the best bet is to wash your dose down with water.
Can I drink coffee with other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications?
There’s another reason why you may want to drink coffee separately from aspirin and other NSAIDs. Coffee contains tannins, a chemical that belongs to a group of compounds called polyphenols. They’re responsible for that bitter flavor in your favorite teas, chocolates, and coffee. Tannins can impact absorption of medication. In other words, your coffee may be affecting how well your aspirin works.
NSAIDs have been linked to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack. Coffee can also trigger heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, and high blood pressure. “By taking both, you are only increasing your risk.”
RELATED: What causes heart palpitations?
How to take aspirin safely
Aspirin can be taken as a pain reliever as needed, or taken daily for heart health. Either way, there are some things to be aware of with this type of medication.
Both aspirin and ibuprofen are NSAIDs, so it’s not advised to take them together. It can increase the risk of side effects, like stomach bleeding, when combined.
Other things you should avoid taking with aspirin include:
- Certain seizure medications such as valproic acid
- Steroid medication such as prednisone
You also should avoid taking other medications that contain aspirin such as Alka-Seltzer and Excedrin Migraine. To be sure if a medication contains aspirin or another NSAID, read the list of ingredients on the package. If you need extra help, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
When it comes to taking aspirin, your best bet is to talk with your healthcare provider, especially if you have a history of stomach ulcers or a bleeding condition. In most cases, it’s usually fine to continue to enjoy your coffee and take your daily aspirin. To be on the safe side, though, wash it down with a glass of water before you enjoy that first sip of coffee. Your stomach will thank you.