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When Aspirin can Actually Kill You

When Aspirin can Actually Kill You

The use of aspirin has ebbed and flowed over the years as a wonder drug that could cure everything from clogged arteries to the flu.  However, study after study indicated that this miracle tablet does little to stop heart attacks and improve cardiovascular health.  It also is the last thing that you want to give someone who is suffering from a viral infection.  Let’s look at some very important things to consider before starting an aspirin regimen or using it to treat minor ailments.

Aspirin and the Flu

There is a direct relationship between life-threatening illnesses and death from viral outbreaks and the taking of aspirin.  It is now widely-accepted that many deaths attributed to the 1918 flu outbreak that took the lives of more than 100 million people were caused by aspirin overdose.  Since antibiotics were nearly non-existent, and the flu was not well-understood, doctors were misguided with respect to how to treat patients.

Providing aspirin and trying to keep patients hydrated and comfortable was standard procedure.  However, taking too much aspirin for too long can cause significant internal bleeding, destroy the gastrointestinal tract and lead to the rupture of blood vessels.  This leads to a host of cardiovascular problems including stroke.  Unfortunately, many people died from the treatment of the flu as opposed to the virus itself.

Reye’s Syndrome

It is now common knowledge that aspirin should not be given to children without doctor supervision.  It is also pretty well-known that there is a link between giving a child aspirin when they have the flu or other viral infection and Reye’s syndrome.  Symptoms of Reye’s syndrome include prolonged vomiting, lethargy, persistent diarrhea, confusion, aggression, rapid breathing and seizures.

The survival rate for children who have Reye’s syndrome has improved to around 80%, contingent on whether they receive prompt treatment.  Unfortunately, these symptoms are common in viral infections to begin with, so it is difficult to differentiate early on whether or not a child has developed Reye’s syndrome.  Early intervention is essential, and it’s important to err on the side of caution in order to rule out this condition.  Keep in mind that there is no cure, but intensive treatment is key to survival.

Cardiovascular Health

It has been assumed that giving someone an aspirin while having a heart attack can thin the blood and reduce the impact of a clot traveling to the lung, heart or brain.  However, this practice is being challenged as a battery of studies have revealed that this is not always the case.  Furthermore, there is no proof that people on an aspirin regimen following a cardiovascular episode benefit from this treatment.  In fact, the opposite may be true.

Too much aspirin can lead to the erosion of the digestive tract, causing permanent damage as well as persistent internal bleeding.  Furthermore, aspirin is though to cause strokes as opposed to reducing the chances of their occurrence.  Part of the problem with this form of treatment is that aspirin does not deal with the root cause, rather attempts to work around the problem of clogged or inflamed arteries by thinning the blood.  The best way to address circulatory problems is to reduce inflammation and provide treatments that open up blood vessels and reduce the size of clots.

At the end of the day, aspirin can be doing much more harm than good.  However, this wonder drug is not a killer, and there are still many benefits that we can receive from taking aspirin as needed.  It reduces fever.  It can reduce inflammation following an injury and many doctors recommend using it for chronic problems such as arthritis.  It also is safe to use in low doses, under the right circumstances to promote cardiovascular health as long as the patient is closely monitored by a physician.  It is still thought that the benefits of aspirin therapy outweigh the risks in many cases.  However, it is a dangerous gamble to take.

Make sure that you learn more about the way aspirin interacts with the body as well as when and when not to use this drug.  While it should be included in your survival kit as a cheap, lasting and effective analgesic, you should also learn whether or not it is the best solution for you and your family.  The last thing that you need is to have an aspirin-related problem in the field when access to medical care may be limited during a crisis.

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