No, an Empty Nebuliser is Not an Alternative to Oxygen Cylinders
Using a nebuliser, with or without medicines, will not increase oxygen levels in the body.
(Editor’s Note: The story has been updated to add that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's monthly address Mann Ki Baat that aired on 25 April also included a snippet of the viral video that was debunked by FIT.)
A video going viral on the internet claims that using a nebuliser without any medicine will help in increasing blood oxygen levels in people, and they don't have to run around for oxygen cylinders.
The speaker identifies himself as Dr Alok and social media posts have claimed that he is associated with Sarvodaya Hospital, Faridabad.
The claim comes while there is rampant shortage of oxygen in the country and several Delhi hospitals have sent out SOS calls pleading for oxygen supply as they struggled to cope with the increasing number of patients amid the second wave of COVID-19.
However, we spoke with doctors and found out that the claim does not hold water. Using a nebuliser, with or without medicines, will not increase oxygen levels in the body. Moreover, Sarvodaya Hospitals have also issued a clarification stating that the claim is false and warned against it.
The video is being shared widely on the internet with a caption that reads,"Dr Alok from Sarvodaya Hospital Faridabad, has shown an excellent technique using nebuliser to improve the levels of blood oxygen level. In today's scenario of Oxygen crisis this can save lives of many."
In the video, the person can be seen wearing scrubs that have the logo of Sarvodaya Hospitals.
We also got the video as a query on out WhatsApp tipline. The message being forwarded on WhatsApp reads, "He is Dr Alok from Sarvodaya Hospital, Faridabad. He has shown an excellent technique using nebuliser to improve the levels of blood oxygen level. In today's scenario of Oxygen crisis this can save lives of many. Proning is also a technique but request everyone to watch it once. This can be very helpful in emergency situation. Please try."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's monthly address Mann Ki Baat that aired on 25 April included a snippet of the video. The viral clip was shown to explain how doctors were taking to platforms like social media, WhatsApp, and telephone to give consultation during the second wave of COVID-19 and ensure that people are getting verified information.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We looked up Sarvodaya Hospital to see if the hospital had released a video with this technique. We found that official Facebook page of the hospital had called the claim false and had warned against it.
"The video has not been backed by any evidence or scientific study, does not reflect any medical advice and is in no way endorsed by Sarvodaya Hospital, Faridabad," the post said. The post does not add if the person in the video is indeed attached with the hospital.
The post added that following such practices without consulting a medical practitioner could lead to worsening of the disease.
We spoke with Dr Arnab Swain, a senior resident (Chest Medicine) at KEM Hospital, Mumbai. Dr Swain, who is on the frontline in our fight against COVID-19, said that it is a false claim.
It is not possible that the nebuliser, with or without medicine, will increase our blood oxygen levels, Dr Swain said.
“The nebuliser turns a liquid medicine into aerosol/mist which when inhaled by the patient, reaches their lungs quickly and provides relief,” he said.
Nebulisers are often used for people with severe asthma or children who aren’t old enough to properly use inhalers. It is also used to loosen the mucus in the lungs.
Here's a video posted by the American Lung Association, showing how to properly use a nebuliser.
The doctor in the video, Alok Sethi, spoke with India Today and said that the information in the video was not true and he has been alerting people about it after he realised that the video went viral.
Therefore, the claim that nebuliser can be used as an alternative to oxygen cylinder is completely false.
It is critical to note that this or any such home remedy or trick should not be practised without consulting a doctor, as it may lead to further complications and could be life-threatening.
(This story was first published on Quint FIT and has been republished with permission)
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