36ºF

Does holding your breath really test for coronavirus? Can drinking liquids keep you safe?

Dr. Frank McGeorge answers viewer question about coronavirus

DETROIT – There’s a lot of information and misinformation out there about the coronavirus, so Local 4 is letting viewers submit questions so we can find verified answers.

Click here if you want to submit a question about the coronavirus.

Dr. Frank McGeorge wants to verify or refute any information about the coronavirus, but there are also some questions experts still don’t know the answer to. McGeorge is discussing them because acknowledging what we don’t know is just as important as verifying information so people don’t rely on incorrect answers.

Trust Index: Breath holding test

Dr. McGeorge is breaking out the Trust Index on an email and Facebook post that many people have seen. In fact, his father-in-law received the same email.

There are a couple of variants, but all the emails start by saying that the information is from experts in Taiwan or a university.

The emails claim a simple self check for infection is to take a deep breath and hold it in for 10 seconds. It says if you can do that, it proves there’s no lung fibrosis and on infection.

First of all, lung fibrosis has nothing to do with coronavirus infection.

Secondly, while serious COVID-19 infections would make it more difficult to hold your breath, that doesn’t prove anything. People could easily be infected to a lesser degree and still be able to hold their breath.

Trust Index: Drinking liquids

The next part of the email claims drinking water or other liquids will keep you safe by washing the virus down your throat and into your stomach, where it will be killed.

It’s true that stomach acid would kill the virus, but no amount of gargling would rinse the virus out from your airway, especially the upper part behind your nose -- called the nasopharynx, or the same place doctors swab when they test for the virus.

There are other messages out there that suggest different mouth rinses or gargles -- anything from iodine to alcohol. But the truth is that none would help.

These emails receive a “completely false” on the Trust Index.


About the Authors: