No, Inhaling Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor to Cure COVID-19 Won't Work, Doctors Warn: 'Please Do Not Do This'
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought some questionable treatments to the mainstream. While some people have self-treated their COVID-19 infections by taking the anti-parasitic medication ivermectin, others are now reportedly inhaling hydrogen peroxide.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) released a warning on its website this week, urging people not to try this dangerous treatment trend that's making the rounds on social media. Some users claim that putting hydrogen peroxide into a nebulizer (a breathing machine that turns liquid asthma medicine into a mist) and then breathing in that mist will help cure COVID-19.
Many social media sites are flagging and yanking these videos and claims, but some screenshots are still showing up, including this one:
This Facebook post from a naturopathic doctor also suggests putting hydrogen peroxide in your nebulizer for lung issues:
But the AAFA is practically begging people to take a pass on this treatment hack. "DO NOT put hydrogen peroxide into your nebulizer and breathe it in. This is dangerous!" the AAFA says online. "It is not a way to prevent nor treat COVID-19."
It's unclear where, exactly, this originated from, but experts agree that it's a really bad idea. "Hydrogen peroxide is a free radical," Jamie Alan, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, tells Health. 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," Alan explains. "It can even get into the cells once the cell membranes are compromised and it can damage DNA."
If you inhale too much hydrogen peroxide, "you can do some major damage to your lungs," Alan says. You can also struggle with breathing normally and may develop fluid in your lungs, a condition known a pulmonary edema, she says.
"I'm not even sure why people have stumbled upon this," infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Health. "There is no evidence it can work to treat COVID-19 and it can be dangerous, especially if you have sensitive lungs."
Hydrogen peroxide can kill COVID-19 on surfaces, Alan points out, but inhaling it is an entirely different story. People with COVID already have some level of lung inflammation, which "would then be exacerbated even more by inhaling hydrogen peroxide," Dr. Adalja says.
If you have COVID-19, Dr. Adalja recommends speaking to your doctor about your treatment options. You may qualify for a monoclonal antibody treatment or, at the very least, your doctor should have some advice for you on how to stay comfortable during your illness.
Just take a pass on inhaling hydrogen peroxide. "Inhaling hydrogen peroxide can be very bad," Alan says. "Please do not do this."
The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.
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