Samantha Ruth Prabhu’s Hydrogen Peroxide Nebulisation Advice Sparks Controversy

Samantha Ruth Prabhu, a prominent figure in Indian cinema, recently sparked controversy by advocating hydrogen peroxide nebulisation as an alternative treatment for viral infections. In an Instagram post, she suggested her followers try inhaling a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and distilled water instead of relying on medication. Dr. Cyriac Abby Philips, known as “The Liver Doc” on social media, vehemently criticized Samantha’s recommendation, labelling her “health and science illiterate” and accusing her doctors of being “businessmen.” He warned of the potential dangers associated with this practice.

Hydrogen peroxide nebulisation involves inhaling a mist of diluted hydrogen peroxide through a nebuliser, a device commonly used to deliver medication directly into the lungs. While hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic used as an oxidising and disinfecting agent in various applications, its use in nebulisation is highly controversial. The Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry warns that inhaling nebulized hydrogen peroxide can interact with substances in the air or residues in the nebuliser equipment, leading to the production of harmful byproducts or gases that damage the lungs and cause inflammation in the airways.

Proponents of hydrogen peroxide nebulisation claim it can cleanse the respiratory tract, kill pathogens, and prevent respiratory infections. However, these claims lack scientific backing. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of hydrogen peroxide nebulisation for any medical purpose due to its potential health risks. Inhaling hydrogen peroxide can damage the mucosal lining of the respiratory tract, leading to mucosal irritation, swelling, pain, burning, dryness, and difficulty swallowing. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that even a 3% solution can irritate the mucosal tissue and cause asphyxiation.

Furthermore, inhaling hydrogen peroxide poses a significant risk of developing pulmonary edema, a condition where fluid builds up in the lungs, leading to severe respiratory distress and dangerously low oxygen levels in the blood. This can escalate to life-threatening complications. Additionally, it can cause pneumonitis, an inflammation of the lungs triggered by long exposure to irritants or chemicals. This can lead to shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing up blood.

Dr. Roohi Pirzada, a General Physician based in Mumbai, explains that hydrogen peroxide is cytotoxic, meaning it can kill cells. Inhaling hydrogen peroxide can lead to cellular damage and death within the respiratory system, particularly affecting the delicate cells lining the lungs.

Following criticism, Samantha responded with a statement clarifying that she shared the nebulisation method with good intentions and not to harm anyone. She defended her recommendation, stating it was based on advice from her doctor with 25 years of experience. However, “The Liver Doc” again called her a “serial offender in the context of healthcare misinformation” and reiterated his commitment to combatting medical misinformation.

While alternatives like saline nebulisers exist, it is always safest to consult doctors for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment as it may vary depending on the type of virus infecting the person. This controversy highlights the importance of relying on qualified medical professionals for health advice and the dangers of spreading misinformation, especially when it comes to matters of health.

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