Coronavirus myth busted: Drinking warm water won’t kill coronavirus

Health experts including the World Health Organisation suggest that there is no scientific evidence behind this theory.

Myupchar March 23, 2020 12:58:37 IST
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Coronavirus myth busted: Drinking warm water won’t kill coronavirus

Over 400 people have been affected by the novel coronavirus in India as of Monday, March 23. Even as the affected areas go into lockdown, the myths and misinformation do not seem to be going away. Fake information is still circulating on all the social media platforms, especially WhatsApp.

One of the weirdest myths that persist (despite being debunked over and again) is that drinking water every 15 minutes is the best way to kill coronavirus

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Representational image. Image by Kevin Phillips from Pixabay.

According to the myth, if you drink warm water regularly and keep your throat and mouth moist, the novel coronavirus will not get a chance to get into your lungs and cause respiratory symptoms. Instead, it will go into your stomach where the stomach acids would kill it. 

However, most health experts including the World Health Organisation suggest that there is no scientific evidence behind this theory. 

Studies show that a lot of pathogens are susceptible to stomach acids, though certain microbes like E. coli can evade the effects of gastric acid and cause infections. Some experts say that it can be assumed that gastric acid, to some extent, may be harmful to viruses too. A clinical study done in 2003 indicated that people who took acid-suppressive drugs were 2.5 times more likely to get community-acquired respiratory infections than those who didn’t. 

On the other hand, though, middle east respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), two viruses related to SARS-COV-2 have shown to have effects/association with the gastrointestinal tract. MERS uses the human intestinal tract as an alternative route of infection and SARS causes gastrointestinal symptoms, especially in the intestinal walls.

While drinking water will keep you hydrated, it would be wrong to assume at this point that it could kill the virus or keep you safe from it.

Benefits of warm water

Most physicians will tell you to keep up your fluid intake when you are suffering from a cold or flu. This is because water helps improve circulation and helps flush toxins out of your body. 

Studies show that warm water immersion (not drinking) was as good for cardiorespiratory functioning as exercise. It increases oxygen supply to your body tissues, relaxes muscles and reduces stress.

In case of a cold, drinking warm water helps relieve congestion since it loosens mucous. Warm water also helps clear your sinuses.

In an interview with the Associated Press (AP), Dr William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, USA, said that keeping yourself hydrated will keep your mucous membranes moist. But it won’t prevent complications of a disease, nor will it keep you safe from infections.

Stick to the recommended measures

Since there is no vaccine against the virus (yet), it is best to stick to the recommendations of the World Health Organisation. Here is all we know of the preventive measures against COVID-19 so far:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser when you can’t wash your hands. But sanitisers will only help when your hands are otherwise clean (free of dirt and other substances).
  • COVID-19 shows mild symptoms or is asymptomatic (shows no symptoms) in some people, so it is best to stay at home or maintain a social distance of 2 meters outside. 
  • The virus spreads through contaminated surfaces, so do not touch your face or nose.
  • Use the bend of your elbow (instead of your hands) to sneeze or cough. This will reduce the chances of spreading the infection. 
  • Contact your doctor if you notice signs of fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

For more tips, read our article on Coronavirus.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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