What is the aspirin dosage for a headache



This review found only very low-quality evidence that people who experience tension headaches two to fourteen times a month get good pain relief from taking 1000 mg of aspirin or lower doses. Questions exist about how studies are being carried out on this type of headache. These questions concern the selection of groups of people for these studies and the types of endpoints that were reported. This will limit the usefulness of the results, especially for people with occasional headaches.


People with regular tension headaches experience them between 2 and 14 times a month. Tension headaches make it difficult for people to concentrate and work, and they create many limitations. If headaches occur, they will improve over time, even without treatment. Aspirin is a commonly used, widely used, nonprescription pain reliever. The normal dose is between 300 mg up to 650 mg taken orally.

Study characteristics

In September 2016, we searched the medical literature and found five studies involving a total of 1,812 participants examining aspirin as a treatment for common episodic tension headaches. Approximately 1,668 participants participated in comparisons between taking aspirin, at doses between 500 mg and 1000 mg, and taking placebo (a dummy drug). The International Headache Society recommends the endpoint freedom from pain two hours after taking the drug, but also suggests other endpoints. Neither study reported freedom from pain after two hours, or other recognized endpoints. As a result, there was limited information available to analyze endpoints related to the efficacy of aspirin.

Main results

None of the studies reported whether participants were pain-free after two hours. Only one study reported an endpoint that we judged to be equivalent to pain-free or mild pain after two hours. For aspirin 1000 mg, approximately 10 out of 100 participants took additional pain relievers, compared to 30 out of 100 in the placebo group (very low quality evidence). At the end of the study, 55 out of 100 participants were satisfied with the treatment compared to 37 out of 100 who took placebo (very low quality evidence). Around 15 out of 100 people who took 1000 mg aspirin reported side effects after taking a dose, which was almost identical in the placebo group (low quality evidence).

Quality of the evidence

The quality of the evidence was low or very low for the comparison between aspirin and placebo. If the quality of the evidence is low or very low, it means that we are very uncertain about the results.