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Fact Check-Inhaling hydrogen peroxide is not a recommended treatment for COVID-19 or other illnesses

Medical professionals strongly advise against inhaling a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and saline solution as a home remedy for COVID-19 or pneumonia. Videos shared on social media encouraging the use of such a “treatment” are misleading users online.

Examples of videos encouraging the use of hydrogen peroxide in a nebulizer can be seen here , here , here .

One video tells social media users, “DO NOT WORRY DO NOT PANIC DO NOT GO TO THE HOSPITAL.”

The videos recommend acquiring a nebulizer and using it for “10-15 minutes every hour’’ to nebulize a solution of “3% Hydrogen Peroxide” diluted 50/50 with saline water.

The method is presented as a remedy or home treatment for COVID-19, the common cold, flu, and even pneumonia. Seeking medical treatment for COVID-19 and consulting medical professionals is always encouraged for those who have contracted the illness. Recent Reuters reporting on developments in COVID-19 treatments are visible here .

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not list hydrogen peroxide as a treatment for COVID-19 (here).

Hydrogen peroxide is traditionally used for minor cuts and scrapes (here).

These rumors prompted organizations like the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) (www.aafa.org/about-aafa.aspx) to post an advisory on their website, seen bit.ly/3APNtWa and on the organization's Facebook page (here) warning against inhaling hydrogen peroxide. “DO NOT put hydrogen peroxide into your nebulizer and breathe it in. This is dangerous. It is not a way to prevent nor treat COVID-19,” they warned, in response to the social media trend.

According to AAFA, "Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a cleaner and stain remover and can cause tissue damage if you swallow it or breathe it in." The organization cites toxicology records (here) from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

In a September 23 article published on Health.com, visible here physicians plead with the public: “Please do not do this.”

Dr Jamie Alan, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University told Health.com, “Hydrogen peroxide is a free radical, meaning it’s an unstable atom that can damage cells. If it’s inhaled, it goes to the lungs where it can damage cell membranes.”

Panagis Galiatsatos, M.D., an associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, shared Alan’s sentiment. Dr. Galiatsatos told Reuters via phone that claims regarding hydrogen peroxide as an effective treatment for COVID-19 “are all false.”

“You should 100% work with a healthcare professional to best guide on how you can overcome this disease that for some people can be severe,” Galiatsatos said.

The Pulmonary and critical care medicine specialist expressed concern regarding the dangers of using hydrogen peroxide in a general sense. “I remember growing up, you know, my mom’s very old-school, she’s putting hydrogen peroxide on a wound and it will kill the infection - and it kills every other cell.”

In response to questions about bouts of coughing when inhaling hydrogen peroxide, which some have suggested are a sign that a person is killing the virus, Galiatsatos said: “You are breathing in hydrogen peroxide. That coughing is not because of anything [happening] to the infection. You are literally damaging your own lung cells.” He warned that using hydrogen peroxide “complicates the course of any successful treatments.”

Galiatsatos strongly recommended checking with a physician about potential medical misinformation. “Misinformation is packaged and wrapped nicely, where it’s got a great narrative. However, if you have concerns, just ask us, you know.” He said he hoped the medical world would respond in a manner that is not judgmental “to make sure that people see us as part of their community.”

VERDICT

False. Medical professionals do not recommend inhaling hydrogen peroxide as a treatment for COVID-19.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .  

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