As someone who has had the responsibility of preventing herself from contracting all manners of illness for a long time, I can tell you that none of these things are useful.
(If someone you know is advocating any of these, please tell them to read this article, or, better yet, get their preventative advice directly from the CDC, and stop giving credence to random lists of things on Facebook that supposedly come from an unnamed “friend of a colleague who works at a hospital.”)
- You cannot kill novel Coronavirus by heating up your nasal passages with a hair dryer, sauna, steam from your tea or soup, etc. This is probably the most hilarious suggestion I’ve heard. The flawed reasoning goes like this… “Coronavirus dies at 133 F, and it enters through the nose, so if I heat up my nose to 133 F, that will kill Coronavirus.”
There are so many issues with this, but here are two major ones:
Novel Coronavirus doesn’t confine itself to your nose, waiting for you to blast yourself in the face with a hair dryer. When your mucus membranes (eyes, mouth, nose) are exposed to it, it enters your cells.
It populates your lungs and may live throughout your GI tract. You can’t “catch it” before it reaches your lungs. If you’re positive, you’re positive. Everything after that is your body’s immune and inflammatory response to viral infection — including the pneumonia that causes so many deaths.
Pro-tip: If the inside of your nose reaches 133 F, you are burning! 🔥😬
133 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature of scalding water. The inside of your nose is a watery mucus membrane, so if it ever got that hot, you would need medical attention. But it never gets that hot under normal circumstances, even in the desert or a sauna. Why? Because you’re a mammal, and your body regulates its internal temperature independent of the environment it is in.
- Drinking hot liquids does nothing to prevent viral infection (but they do warm you up and make you feel good, so enjoy!)
- “Keeping the mouth moist” and drinking frequently to “wash the virus into your stomach, where the gastric juices will kill it” is completely ridiculous. Novel Coronavirus is present in stool samples. It survives in the GI tract. For other reasons why this is silly, read this: No, drinking water doesn’t kill Coronavirus — BBC Future
- Gargling with “vinegar, salt, garlic, or lemon” does not kill the millions of microscopic virions that invade the cells of your mucus membranes when you become infected with Novel Coronavirus. Vinegar, salt, garlic, and lemon have mostly antibacterial properties — they are not sufficiently antiviral to be useful in this case.
- “The virus can live on hair and clothes.” This falls into the realm of technically true, but not meaningfully true (healthcare providers excepted). If someone literally coughs directly onto your hair or clothes, go take a shower and wash your clothes. Otherwise, shower daily, wear clean clothes, and wash your clothes regularly, like a normal human person who is clean. The virus infects when it comes in contact with your eyes, nose or mouth. The likelihood of transferring a critical mass of virions to your face because you went to the grocery store and your sleeve touched the checkout counter is very low (assuming you don’t go home and eat your dirty clothes).
- “Avoiding cold foods” has no effect on viral infection or transmission (but if you feel cold, drink or eat something warm! Duh.)
- The virus doesn’t “live in your throat” for three days before “moving” to your lungs. Again, when you are infected, you are infected. There aren’t levels of infection. There are stages of symptom progression as your body ramps up its immune response to the virus, but you can’t prevent virions from invading your lungs by gargling something when you have a sore throat (especially not with mild antibacterial agents like vinegar/salt/garlic/lemon). Viruses do not work like bacteria.
When people aren’t over-complicating prevention, they are doubting that something so scary can even be prevented with such simple methods, and so they act as though it’s hopeless, and there’s nothing they can do.
In reality, if you can just commit to these 3 simple recommendations, you will dramatically reduce your risk of infection and transmission.
If you do the three things as though your life depends on it, then you don’t need to feel afraid. You just have to become consciously and constantly aware of your contact with things and people, at all times.
Wash your hands, clean the things you touch, avoid people (and the things people touch).
You’re gonna be ok.