Hyderabad: As India is battling the second wave of COVID-19, the shortage of oxygen cylinders and other medicines has become an issue of concern in the country. In this situation, a video of a doctor who claims that using a nebulizer helps improve blood oxygen levels has gone viral.
The man in the video has been identified as Dr. Alok from Sarvodaya Hospital in Faridabad. According to a Facebook post, "He has shown an excellent technique using a nebulizer 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 doctor says that using a nebulizer can help people who are in need of oxygen. He goes on to demonstrate how a nebulizer works without saline solution or medicine in it.
The claim that nebulizer can be used as an alternative to oxygen cylinder is FALSE.
The doctor in question, 'Dr. Alok', is wearing blue scrubs with the Sarvodaya Healthcare logo. NewsMeter found that Sarvodaya Healthcare, in a tweet, has said the video is not backed by any evidence or scientific study and does not reflect any medical advice, and is NOT endorsed by Sarvodaya Hospital, Faridabad. It advised people not to follow any such practice without consulting medical practitioners and said it could lead to worsening of the disease.
In a tweet Sarvodaya Healthcare said, "Always consult a medical practitioner before following any #medication practice, especially for #treatment of severe conditions. Do not fall prey to any information without an authorized source."
We also found tweets by doctors debunking the claim. According to one, "Patient needs oxygen because normal atmospheric oxygen of 21% is not enough when lungs badly affected. But nebulizer is also giving 21% only. So there is no logic in using a nebulizer as a substitute for oxygen cylinder."
A nebulizer creates a fine mist from a liquid, usually using compressed air or oxygen, or via ultrasonic vibration. A nebulizer is different from a vaporizer, which uses heat to produce mist.
Nebulizers are often used to deliver life-saving drugs. Patients inhale them via a mask they put over their nose and mouth. Sometimes the mist alone is sufficient to treat a patient. For example, nebulized saline is used to treat the lung condition cystic fibrosis. Sometimes people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are also treated with drugs via a nebulizer.
There are chances of spreading COVID-19 while using a nebulizer. Here's how:
When we breathe in and out, the small airways and air sacs in our lungs open and close. This generates particles. These particles, along with water vapour, are what are commonly referred to as exhaled aerosols. Think back to breathing out on a cold day; the mist was aerosols from your lungs.
When we have a viral respiratory infection, the virus can be contained in the particles we exhale, and this is how aerosol transmission occurs. It is now widely accepted that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can be spread via aerosols, as well as via larger droplets when we cough and sneeze.
Any activity that increases the amount of aerosols, for example singing or exercising, can increase the amount of aerosolized virus, thereby increasing the risk of transmission.
Therefore, the claim that nebulizer can be used as an alternative to oxygen supply is FALSE.