Because COVID-19 is the new virus on the block, there are many misconceptions about how it presents itself in those infected, as well as what you can do to alleviate the symptoms.
While there are many helpful posts online sharing information about the virus, some are spreading fear and confusion with poorly researched drivel.
CNN is helping to bust some of the dangerous myths that are currently circulating on social media, with the help of an infectious disease specialist based at Baylor College of Medicine, Dr Robert Legare Atmar.
Myth One: If you drink enough water, you will be able to prevent infection.
Dr Atmar explains that this information is very much incorrect. Atmar adds that even if drinking water did help protect your throat and lungs from the virus, you would still be able to contract COVID-19 through your nasal passages.
Myth Two: Gargling salt and warm water is another great preventative measure against coronavirus.
A recent post has claimed that “a simple solution of salt and warm water”, when gargled, is powerful enough to kill the COVID-19 virus.
Atmar elaborates that this home remedy “would not be expected to work” on any respiratory virus, including coronavirus.
Myth Three: If you can hold your breath without coughing, you’re in the clear.
“Take a deep breath and hold your breath for more than 10 seconds. If you complete it successfully without coughing, without discomfort, stiffness or tightness, it proves there is no fibrosis in the lungs, basically indicates no infection,” the fake health bulletin reads.
Here are the facts:
“When someone has an acute viral infection it can be difficult to take a deep breath and not cough because the airways are irritated. That’s all it means. It doesn’t say anything about fibrosis, even though people with fibrosis might struggle doing it. Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds also doesn’t mean someone doesn’t have coronavirus.”
Myth Four: If you have a runny nose, there’s no need to panic about COVID-19.
Many social media users are spreading incorrect information about coronavirus symptoms, including that the virus is for the most a “dry cough” and “If you have a runny nose and sputum, you have a common cold,” not COVID-19.
Atmar explains that, while a great deal of those who contracted the virus present a dry cough, the symptoms of coronavirus are varied. Many patients have, on the contrary, displayed a wet cough and phlegm.
Myth Five: Coronavirus? Boom. Now you have pneumonia.
One post details that the COVID-19 infection first presents itself as a sore throat, which then turns into a “nasal fluid that enters the trachea and then the lungs, causing pneumonia”.
This is incorrect, as the trajectory of the COVID-19 infection varies from person to person.
Myth Six: You will experience a drowning sensation from blocked nasal passages.
Myth busted. Atmar says that loads of coronavirus patients don’t even experience nasal congestion at all, let alone a drowning sensation.
Myth Seven: By the time a COVID-19 patient gets to a hospital, their lungs have already experienced irreparable scarring.
The fake news bulletin confidently described that “By the time they have fever and/or cough and go to the hospital, the lung is usually 50% fibrosis and it’s too late”.
Once again, Atmar:
“This information is extremely alarmist. Fibrosis only develops in the minority of patients and 80 percent of coronavirus patients experience only the mild symptoms of the disease, so this is incorrect”.
You wouldn’t ask your dachshund for financial advice, so don’t trust strangers on the internet to provide you with medical recommendations.
Remember, doctors didn’t study for seven years so that you can follow a tween’s medical advice on Instagram.
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