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What OTC Drug May Have Killed More People in 1918 Flu Pandemic than Flu Itself?

aspirinHistoric evidence points to too much aspirin as a contributor to high death tolls during the 1918-1919 flu pandemic.

Most causes of death from influenza are actually the result of pneumonia. Deaths from flu in 1918 were attributable to lung complications, potentially caused by taking too much aspirin.

Aspirin was widely recommended during the 1918 flu pandemic, but taking too much leads to aspirin toxicity. The result is hemorrhage and fluid buildup in the lungs that can lead to death from respiratory complications.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

During the 1918 flu pandemic there were no antibiotics, other than sulfur drugs, no IV fluids and no respirators -- all the doctors of that era could offer was a warm bed and aspirin.

Now it appears that this misguided advice may actually have caused a significant proportion of deaths by way of pulmonary edema, an abnormal build up of fluid in your lungs that can be caused by taking too much aspirin.

There are a couple of lessons to be learned from this new revelation.

One, you must be very wary of taking a medication because there are always risks involved -- even for an over-the-counter drug like aspirin.

Aside from potentially increasing your risk of pancreatic cancer, kidney failure, and cataracts, aspirin carries side effects such as:

  • Stomach ulcers and bleeding

  • Hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke

  • Allergic reaction

  • Ringing in the ears and hearing loss

And in cases of chronic overdose, in which normal daily doses build up in your body over time, symptoms such as the following can develop:

  • Fatigue

  • Slight fever

  • Confusion

  • Collapse

  • Rapid heart beat

  • Uncontrollable rapid breathing

The second lesson to be learned from this finding has to do with its implications on modern-day pandemics, including the current H1N1 swine flu debacle.

If Flu Was Not the Real Killer in 1918 …

The recommendations and projections for the swine flu pandemic are flawed, as many projections for a new pandemic have been based on a worst-case 1918 scenario, in which tens of millions of people would die globally.

However, since aspirin overdose may have been a major contributor the death toll would actually be much lower. Recent studies have also indicated that strep infections, rather than the flu virus itself, may have killed most people during the 1918 influenza pandemic, which further adds to the notion that the swine flu is being over-hyped. 

Strep is much easier to treat than the flu using modern medicine, so a new pandemic might be much less dire than it was in the early 20th century.

That is, as long as the same mistake is not made twice regarding medications.

What Medication May be Contributing to “Flu” Deaths in 2009?

In 1918, it was aspirin. Today it’s Tamiflu that is being passed out like candy to nearly anyone with flu-like symptoms.

Serious side effects of Tamiflu include convulsions, delirium or delusions, and 14 deaths in children and teens have been reported as a result of neuropsychiatric problems and brain infections. Japan actually banned Tamiflu for children in 2007 because of the steep risks.

It was also around this time that the U.S. FDA began reviewing reports of abnormal behavior and other brain effects in more than 1,800 children who had taken Tamiflu. 

The drug is being so widely overused that it has now contaminated rivers downstream of sewage-treatment facilities as a result of people excreting it in their urine! 

Researchers are quite concerned that birds exposed to these waterborne residues could develop and spread drug-resistant strains of various types of flu, showing that once again the risks of overdoing any type of drug treatment can be steep.

I have to add here, too, that all these risks come with very limited benefits, as Tamiflu can only reduce the duration of your flu symptoms by 1 to 1.5 days, according to official data! 

swine flu posters

What Else Can We Learn from 1918?

The treatment being offered in 1918, aspirin, may have ended up killing a significant number of people. Aside from Tamiflu, what “treatment” is being offered for the swine flu pandemic today?

The H1N1 vaccine.

Health officials everywhere are now recommending each man, woman and child get as many as four flu shots this season; two doses for the swine flu, and one or two doses for the seasonal flu, depending on whether you’ve ever had a flu shot before.

Is it really prudent to mass-administer an untested swine flu vaccine along with a seasonal flu vaccine that may increase your chances of contracting the swine flu

Fortunately, the information train is working and we are getting the word out. Nearly two-thirds of 1,500 parents who responded to a Consumer Reports poll said that they'd either wait or refuse the vaccine for their children

In certain states, however, that “choice” no longer exists. New York, for instance, has recently mandated that all health-care workers be vaccinated against both seasonal and H1N1 flu this year -- or face possible termination. If you fall into this category, please read What to Do if You are Forced to Take a Swine Flu Shot.

In 1918, whether people died from aspirin overdose, a secondary bacterial infection or some other currently unknown cause, and today during the swine flu “pandemic,” what is required or responsible for the actual infection to take hold is a dysfunctional immune system.

If you are healthy you can have enormous exposure to infectious agents and you simply will NOT get sick. A vaccine is simply not the solution … a healthy immune system is.

So this year if you want to learn from 1918 and avoid the flu without resorting to dangerous drugs and vaccines, please review my previous article Avoid Flu Shots With the One Vitamin that Will Stop Flu in Its Tracks.

This will give you the knowledge you need to boost your immune system and stay healthy this flu season -- and for many flu seasons to come.

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