Could some deaths in the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic been prevented? Well an article published in the journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID), believes that the rather high doses of aspirin given in an attempt to treat patients may have only raised the number of deaths from the 1918 influenza.
The author of the article, Karen Starko debates that “The high case fatality rate especially among young adults…is incompletely understood. Although late deaths showed bacterial pneumonia, early deaths exhibited extremely ‘wet,’ sometimes hemorrhagic lungs.”
Starko then talks about how the high doses of aspirin were a contributing factor. She describes how doctors in 1918 were unaware that certain doses (8g-31g of aspirin a day) are actually related to hyperventilation and pulmonary edema in some people.
In fact, Starko cites the US Surgeon General’s recommendation that aspirin should be taken. This was just before a spike in the number of deaths in 1918. She goes on to suggest that if the advice was followed, many of the deaths could have been a result of aspirin.
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