Salicylic Acid

Other names: Salicylate

This test measures the amount of salicylic acid in the blood; salicylic acid is the active part of aspirin but it can cause negative side-effects if the dose is too high.

Why is the test used?

The test is used to monitor the condition of patients who are undergoing aspirin therapy; the test is also used to check the dosage of aspirin a patient is receiving. The test may also be used to determine a suitable treatment plan if a doctor suspects that a patient has had an aspirin overdose.

The test is ordered for patients who are on aspirin therapy and those who are suspected of having an aspirin overdose.

How is the test done?

The test is done by taking a sample of blood from a vein in the patient’s arm. Once the sample has been taken, it will be placed in a bottle, labelled with the patient’s name and sent away to the laboratory for testing.

The test should be done three hours after the last dose of aspirin if the test is being done to monitor treatment and dosage.

What do the test results show?

When aspirin is used for long-term treatment of conditions such as rheumatic arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, the target range is between 250 and 300 milligrams per litre of blood; if the levels of salicylic acid are higher or lower than this, this may mean that the dosage needs adjusting. If the test is carried out to test for an overdose, the test results will be taken into account alongside other factors including the time of the overdose, the patient’s medical history and whether other drugs were taken at the same time.

Aspirin should only be taken on a long-term basis on the advice of a qualified doctor; it should never be given to children under the age of 16. Other drugs, including paracetamol, are preferable for minor ailments, such as headaches.

Specific Blood Tests

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