Profile of Attila the Hun > Death
The following email from a reader came in response to articles on this site on Attila the Hun and his manner of death. This site's Attila biography states the frequently mentioned belief that Attila died of a nosebleed. This reader's email preceded publication of Babcock's book on the mystery of Attila's death, which has a different theory about how Attila died.
"I am always surprised that historians still use the old saw about Attila the Hun dying of a nosebleed. The probability of this being true is extemely unlikely. The MUCH more likely scenario is: 'esophageal varices'. It seems most historians haven't bothered to consult an ER doc or a pathologist.
Attila's death is a CLASSIC scenario for this event: a night of heavy drinking for a chronic heavy drinker. Chronic alcoholism leads to acid reflux disease which culminates eventually in esophageal varices rupturing. This is VERY common, in fact the public doesn't realize it, but this is the number one cause of death for chronic drinkers, NOT liver disease, which is number two.
Essentially we are talking about a hemmorrhoid, only at the bottom of the esophagus instead of the rectum. When they rupture the victim drowns in his own blood, coughing and spitting up blood from mouth and nose. They usually die before getting a transfusion.
I think it is safe to say that Attila was a heavy, chronic drinker; most of the military men (and a helluva lot of other people) were in ancient days. Blood transfusions, of course, were not available."
See Michael Babcock's The Night Attila Died - Solving the Murder of Attila the Hun for a rebuttal of both versions of the death story of Attila the Hun.