Does putting hydrogen peroxide in a nebulizer help the user's body fight pathogens? No, that's not true: Such a practice is not only ineffective, but dangerous, according to information from medical organizations.
The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) on September 16, 2021. The post has a picture of a woman using a nebulizer, which is commonly used by patients with lung diseases to turn their prescribed liquid medicine into a mist. The caption reads: "****THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE****". It continues
Did you know that you can put colloidal silver (I like @designsforhealth
silvercillin) and even hydrogen peroxide in a nebulizer?
It can help your body to fight off pathogens systemically and can be very effective ...
This is what the post looked like on Facebook on September 22, 2021:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Sep 22 19:30:47 2021 UTC)
Although the user who made the post wrote that it was not medical advice, they also describe themselves on their Facebook page as "a board certified doctor of natural medicine who practices Functional Medicine."
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) warned against nebulizing hydrogen peroxide in a blog post published to its website on September 21, 2021. It specifically addressed the notion that such a treatment was effective in combatting COVID-19, a disease caused by SARS-CoV2, which is a pathogenic virus. The blog post begins:
A concerning and dangerous trend is circulating on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. People are breathing in hydrogen peroxide through nebulizers to try to prevent or treat COVID-19.
DO NOT put hydrogen peroxide into your nebulizer and breathe it in. This is dangerous!
The blog post continues:
A nebulizer is a "breathing machine" used to treat asthma. It turns liquid asthma medicine into a mist. You then breathe in the medicine through a mask or mouthpiece.
Only use asthma medicine prescribed by your doctor in your nebulizer. Other chemicals can be harmful to your lungs.
In an email to Lead Stories on September 22, 2021, Melanie Carver, chief mission officer of AAFA, said hydrogen peroxide in a nebulizer can potentially damage your airways and would be dangerous for those with asthma. Carver wrote:
When you breathe in irritants into the airways, it triggers the inflammation response. The only substances that should be intentionally inhaled are your prescribed medicines (if you have any) and clean air. Inhaling hydrogen peroxide can cause tissue damage, irritation, and inflammation. For people with existing asthma, this can lead to breathing difficulties and symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath.
Asthma is a chronic disease that causes the airways to be inflamed, narrow, and filled with mucus. Asthma treatments work to reverse the swelling and squeezing of the airways and cut down on the mucus in order to open up the passageways for air exchange. The concerning recommendation to nebulize hydrogen peroxide (or anything other than your prescribed treatments) can be dangerous for people with asthma.
Inhalant exposure to high concentrations of irritating substances (strong cleaners, air pollution, etc.) can cause lung damage or lung disease (even in otherwise healthy people). Potentially damaging your airways is not something you want to be doing at any time, but especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
AAFA recommends not putting anything other than prescribed treatments into nebulizers. Additionally, nebulizers aerosolize particles and could contribute to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 if used by someone who is infected. For this reason AAFA recommends using an inhaler (with a spacer or valved holding chamber if needed) if possible for your asthma treatment. For people who need nebulized asthma treatments instead, it is best to use the nebulizer in a separate room away from other people.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, colloidal silver -- no matter how it is taken -- is an unsafe health treatment.