Aspirin Contributed to Mortalities of 1918-1919 Spanish Influenza, and More

Red Cross workers carried a stretcher in 1918; names fill an Army hospital ledger. IMAGE: Hollie Chastain/Smithsonian

It’s only in the last few decades that researchers have connected aspirin use to the increase in influenza mortality. Recently, influenza deaths have been attributed to salicylate toxicity.

Image result for spanish influenza 1918 aspirin

Salicylates are weak acids that cross cell membranes relatively easily; thus, they are more toxic when blood pH is low. Dehydration, hyperthermia and chronic ingestion increase salicylate toxicity because of greater distribution of salicylate to tissues. Excretion of salicylates increases when urine pH increases. Drugs that increase urinary HCO3 should be avoided because they worsen metabolic acidosis and decrease blood pH.

The most common salicylate is aspirin, but the group also includes bismuth subsalicylate (such as in Pepto-Bismol). Drugs that decrease respiratory drive should be avoided if possible, because they may impair hyperventilation and respiratory alkalosis, decreasing blood pH [source].

From the 1950s to the 1980s, thousands of deaths among children following influenza and other infections (e.g., Reye Syndrome) were unexplained until studies identified aspirin as the major contributor. Reye Syndrome toxicity (vomiting, hyperventilation, delirium and coma, with brain swelling and fat in the liver and proximal renal tubules) develops after approximately four days of salicylate therapy with reported mean daily doses of 25 mg/kg. Adults with salicylate toxicity present mainly with abnormal consciousness and respiratory distress.

See the 2009 study by the Infectious Diseases Society of America called “Aspirin Misuse May Have Made 1918 Flu Pandemic Worse” published in Science Daily on Oct. 3, 2009.

A ravaged lung (at the National Museum of Health and Medicine) from a U.S. soldier killed by flu in 1918. IMAGE: Cade Martin/Smithsonian

Autopsy reports from 1918 are consistent with what we know today about the dangers of aspirin toxicity, as well as the expected viral causes of death. In 1918, physicians did not fully understand either the dosing or pharmacology of aspirin, yet they were willing to recommend it. Its use was promoted by the drug industry, endorsed by doctors wanting to “do something” and accepted by families and institutions desperate for hope.

An abstract from the aforementioned study states that physicians of the day were unaware that the regimens (8.0–31.2 g per day) produce levels associated with hyperventilation and pulmonary edema in 33% and 3% of recipients, respectively. In 1918, the U.S. Surgeon General, the U.S. Navy, and the Journal of the American Medical Association recommended use of aspirin just before the October death spike. The hypothesis presented is that salicylate therapy for influenza during the 1918–1919 pandemic resulted in toxicity and pulmonary edema, which contributed to the incidence and severity of early ARDS-like lungs, subsequent bacterial infection and overall mortality.

Not Just 1918

Citing articles from various medical journals in his landmark report from 2002, “Toxic and Deadly NSAIDs, an Investigative Report,” Roman Bystrianyk summarizes. AID- (anti-inflammatory drugs) :

“Over 100,000 people are hospitalized for GI bleeding and of those 16,500 die every year. And these values are considered ‘conservative.’

“Also the figures only include prescription NSAIDs used to treat only arthritis and only in the United States. If prescription and over the counter NSAID-related hospitalizations and death rates were counted for not only arthritis, but for all conditions, and throughout the world, the figures would no doubt be enormous. Taking those figures and applying them over the many years that this class of drug that has been available since the early 1970s and the numbers would be horrific.  And yet, no study to date has attempted to quantify these figures.”

Bystrianyk then reposts a graph from The New England Journal of Medicine article by M. Wolfe, et al., “Gastrointestinal Toxicity of Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs” (June 17, 1999, Vol. 340, No. 24, pp. 1888-1889) that shows this alarming statistic relative to other causes of deaths:

Bystrianyk adds:

“Another important observation is that most people have no warning signs that these drugs are causing them internal damage before ending up in the hospital with a serious medical condition. And as we have seen from the statistics, approximately 10% of these hospitalizations end in death. …

“Even aspirin, the first NSAID that was synthesized over 100 years ago by Felix Hoffman at Bayer industries is not free of risk. And considering that aspirin is being highly recommended to reduce the incidence of heart disease we must consider the gastrointestinal damage being caused as well.”

Bystrianyk then quotes J. Weil, et al., from their 2005 British Medical Journal article entitled “Prophylactic aspirin and risk of peptic ulcer bleeding”:

“We found that no particular dose of aspirin between 75 mg and 300 mg daily currently used in cardiovascular prophylaxis is free of risk of causing bleeding from gastric or duodenal ulcers. Even very low (75 mg) doses of aspirin reportedly caused gastric bleeding in volunteers. … Some 10,000 episodes of ulcer bleeding occur in people aged 60 and over each year in England and Wales. … It [sic] may be deduced that 900 of the 10,000 episodes could be associated with and ascribed to prophylactic aspirin use. A general change to low doses (75 mg) of aspirin would not eliminate the risk. …” [Emphasis added]

Winter Watch Takeaway

Also be especially on guard about Ibuprofen and sleep aids. I was using (too much) Ibuprofen for Achilles tendonitis and ran into an old college friend who is a leading pain specialist. Ibuprofin is hard on the liver as well. He recommended circummin instead. The dose shown here would be much lower in children and smaller individuals.

15 Comments on Aspirin Contributed to Mortalities of 1918-1919 Spanish Influenza, and More

  1. A striking angle from Veterans Today, that Sarin gas pneumonia death is the SAME as Covid-19

    ‘Coronavirus deaths multiplied by sarin gas attacks on Iran, Italy, Spain’?

    Covid-19 coronavirus deaths are almost invariably from pneumonia i.e. lung failure from swelling tissue, fluids, etc hence massive need for ventilators in severe cases

    Which is also apparently the chief result of some chemical weapon nerve agents such as odorless, colourless Sarin gas

    “Sarin can take two weeks to kill & causes death by pneumonia. It is ordinarily undetectable.

    Sarin gas is classified as a lethal nerve gas & weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations

    It causes death by paralysing muscles of the lungs. A person can walk for two weeks & then die, without knowing that he has this gas, that has no medical treatment possible when inhaled

    Unconfirmed report from a high level intelligence asset that low level Sarin gas has been dropped on Iran, Italy & Spain to mimic CV19.

    Death rates in Italy, Iran & elsewhere seem to confirm Russian allegations, that if CV19 is real, deaths are ‘salted’ with Sarin to bring numbers up & create panic.

    101 Iranian doctors penned a letter addressed to leaders of Afghanistan, Georgia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, & Pakistan to take ‘immediate action’ to destroy ‘all US biological laboratories’ in their countries … the coronavirus pandemic may have been spread deliberately as biological warfare

    Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, independent Bulgarian investigative journalist & Middle East correspondent, has reported extensively on an alleged multi-billion-dollar US military programme said to include Pentagon-funded biolaboratories in over two dozen countries, including ten countries in Africa, six in Southeast Asia & nine in countries surrounding Iran & Russia including Iraq, Jordan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, & Ukraine.”

    Map of Pentagon bio-laboratories in 25 countries

    “Advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.” – Project for New American Century, Rebuilding America’s Defences, Sep 2000

    • Uh, why did these people let the US build bases in their country to begin with? Regardless, they should burn and bulldoze them anyways.

    • I am currently working on two novels:

      a. what if a nation state launched a bio/chem attack on the leadership circles of an adversary nation state and used a global pandemic simulation to cover it up?

      b. what if powerful elements (but not elected political leaders) in a nation state ran a global pandemic simulation and used that to cover up the assassination of the head of state?

      I actually thought (b) was starting to play out last weekend (“TRUMP TO BE TESTED SOON”) … but it seems not … (a) is more likely to fall in the life imitating art category – the “Sarin” angle is just perfect – thanks!

      • So that’s why the hazmat suits, and the reports that relatives are not allowed to see the faces of the Italian victims, which must be covered with masks even in their coffins. It’s Sarin they fear, not just the flu. I wonder if they could actually be putting tiny amounts of Sarin into those respirator “bubble” bags we’ve seen in news photos of patients in hospitals…

  2. Sherry Rogers, MD, says ibuprofen inhibits the body’s natural ability to repair cartilage, it “chews up the joints”.

  3. Achilles tendonitis, eh Russ? I may have the same condition due to hiking in the mountains here in my neck of the woods a couple of years ago and may have sprained or even torn the tendon (plus I am approaching 70 years old).Thanks for the warning about ibuprophen, especially the amount.

  4. I can claim no real knowledge of these issues; but throughout my adult life bottles of Tylenol and aspirin have sat in my cupboard with expiration dates in the previous decade!

    The word always was “got a fever? – take a tylenol” – but one day I said: fever is the immune system at work, why would you want to suppress it? And indeed I think I ran across something in the last year to the effect that the evolving medical consensus was NOT in every case at least to suppress fevers.

  5. I have figured that Sunday being 3-22(322 Skull & Bones)would be some watershed date! We possibly could be on a nationwide ‘lockdown’ by Monday!

    The first video is on inmates being released all over the world! The next few vids are about firearms purchases currently being terminated in certain states! The last video is someone within the military who has been tipped off about impending martial law!

  6. This evening in Indian Hills, Nevada, (near Carson City, just East of Lake Tahoe) there was a 5+ earthquake. Friend on the ground there said there was a very loud “boom sound” when the shaking began. He said it “sounded like a meteor hit the earth.” Businesses report broken glass.

    • Torchy,

      We had a 5.7 in Salt Lake City on Wednesday at 7am! I had been up for maybe 10 minutes when it hit and I’m telling you…you want to go from being groggy to a heightened level of awareness in a nanosecond, a earthquake is just the recipe! I experienced one as a young kid in California, but I vaguely remembered it so it felt somewhat like the first time.

      Those who have witnessed a significant earthquake can understand when I say that experiencing the Earth move like that on such a large-scale makes one experience ominous feelings that are dominated by dread and awe! And the aftershocks are enough to send you into the madhouse afterwards!

      Lake Tahoe is about 550 miles due west of Salt Lake City, so I wonder how much of a connection there is between the two earthquakes?

      • Wow. I didn’t know SLC has earthquakes. I guess they’re not uncommon around Carson City. But it was the loud “meteor”-like boom sound that concerned me.

        Crash, explosion, bomb? I read somewhere a while back that the US military still uses Nevada for weapons testing — though not the “atomic” kind anymore (let’s hope).

        It stokes my uneasiness that the government is ramping up its Covid-19 response in order to study the economic and societal ramifications of a national emergency with a “shelter in place” order — because something is coming down the pike, like a war.

        And it also makes me wonder … What if California had the Big One right now?

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