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Hydrogen peroxide can be used to disinfect wounds or even as an effective surface cleaner. But it should not be used as a way to treat or prevent COVID-19. Getty Images
  • The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America is responding to the trend of some people using asthma nebulizers to inhale hydrogen peroxide to treat or prevent COVID-19.
  • This is the latest trend of health misinformation related to COVID-19.
  • Experts say inhaling hydrogen peroxide could cause dangerous injury to your lungs.

No matter how often people are warned against following medical advice found on social media regarding COVID-19, it’s only a matter of time before some strange, new — and potentially dangerous — fad spreads.

This time, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has responded to a “concerning and dangerous trend” on social media platforms that include Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.

AAFA is responding to the trend of some people using asthma nebulizers to inhale hydrogen peroxide to treat or prevent COVID-19.

“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 AAFA said in a statement.

Dr. Len Horvitz, a nationally recognized internist and pulmonary specialist in private practice in Manhattan, told Healthline this is only the most recent bout of health misinformation related to COVID-19 treatments that could seriously harm people.

“The very beginning of this, let’s talk about things that are ridiculous: Way back in March 2020 I had a patient send me something from what seemed to be a scientific study that explained the virus [SARS-CoV-2] is, of course, inactivated by heat,” Horvitz said.

“And suggested putting a hair dryer up your nose for 5 minutes every day,” he said.

“Maybe they were just trying to sell hair dryers,” he said.

While video-streaming giant YouTube has recently taken a strong stance against COVID-19 misinformation and has said it will ban content with medical misinformation, other outlets allow misleading social posts to flourish.

Horovitz emphasized that there are legitimate sources of information online, especially those used by health officials.

“They should absolutely not go to social media as a source,” Horovitz said. “You should go to legitimate websites, like the FDA, the CDC, or the Department of Health in your state.”

There is “never” a good reason to inhale hydrogen peroxide, Horovitz emphasized.

However, he explained that the chemical does have legitimate medical uses.

“Dental uses like gum disease, [or] swishing and spitting hydrogen peroxide for dental reasons,” he said. “But most of it is for wound care, and it’s great at mopping up dried blood.”

According to Horovitz, while it’s possible that drinking hydrogen peroxide might not have terribly harmful effects, it may cause some diarrhea from deactivating bacteria.

“But it wouldn’t burn a person the way Drano would,” Horovitz said.

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, inhaling vapors from solutions of hydrogen peroxide greater than 10 percent could result in severe pulmonary irritation.

Asked what the consequences of inhaling this chemical might be, Horovitz said he expects it could be serious depending on how much of the substance is inhaled.

“It would certainly do something bad to alveoli, maybe not to breathing tubes,” he speculated. “It would fizzle bacteria, it would react with dead tissue and cause bubbling.”

“But honestly, I’ve never encountered anything like this,” he admitted.

Other experts agree, and warn that the consequences could be severe depending on how strong a concentration is used.

“The concern for using it in a nebulized form is severe irritation to the airways with a lot of additional inflammation,” Dr. Gregory Schrank, infectious disease specialist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told USA Today. “If they’re infected with COVID, this can really, really exacerbate it and cause severe harm.”

In spite of the seemingly constant stream of medically unsound advice bouncing across the internet, the best advice is something we’ve all been told from the beginning.

According to Horovitz, the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is by:

  • masking
  • physical distancing
  • handwashing and disinfecting surfaces

“And vaccination, vaccination, vaccination!” Horovitz said.

A new trend is spreading through social media that encourages people to inhale hydrogen peroxide to treat or prevent COVID-19.

Experts say that hydrogen peroxide should never be inhaled or ingested, as the health consequences could be severe.

They also say that the best ways to prevent COVID-19 are the ones we’ve been told by health officials from the beginning: handwashing, physical distancing, masking, and, of course, getting vaccinated.