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Social media medical advice: Do your research, ask medical experts, use discretion, say doctors

By newadmin / Published on Thursday, 11 Jul 2024 14:45 PM / No Comments / 7 views

WHAT HAPPENED Samantha Ruth Prabhu took to her Instagram story to share that she had been doing hydrogen peroxide nebulisation for common viral and that it worked “like magic” for her. Dr Philips shot back at Samantha and called her “a health and science illiterate”. He also shared that “The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, warning people to not nebulize and breathe in hydrogen peroxide because it is dangerous for health.”
Samantha reacted to the criticism by saying that “I merely suggested with good intention because of all that I have faced and learnt in the last couple of years.” Dr Philips responded that Samantha was “a serial offender in the context of healthcare misinformation.” He added that “if celebrity influencers really want to impact people positively, then start unlearning and re-learn, develop critical thinking skills, disregard logical fallacies and stand up for medical science.”


Actress Samantha Ruth Prabhu and Dr Cyriac Abby Philips (who goes by the moniker The Liver Doc on social media) locked horns when the former recommended an alternative treatment for “a common viral”

DON’T TAKE MEDICAL ADVICE FROM SOCIAL MEDIA, SAY DOCTORS Doctors stress that it is up to the followers to use their discretion and only take advice from medical practitioners. “On social media, most people are sharing their experiences – where to go, what to eat – it is okay to take that advice but when it comes to your health, please don’t take advice from people who are not experts. The point is that it should be the discretion of the listener/ follower. People should do their own research, ask about such treatments from their medical practitioner,” says Dr Pratibha Dogra, Senior Consultant, Pulmonology & Sleep Medicine expert, Marengo Asia Hospital, Gurugram.
Dr Vivek Nangia, Principal Director & Head, Pulmonology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, adds, “Unfortunately, after the pandemic, there has been a deluge of information on the internet; WHO has termed it ‘infodemic.’ The authenticity of the information source is crucial, whether it’s from an influencer, a friend, or family. It’s important to crosscheck information with healthcare professionals.” Dr Anshu Rohatgi, Vice Chairman, Neurology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, shares, “Celebrities or social media influencers can talk about a disease or treatment to create awareness but they cannot give medical advice. Being a celebrity doesn’t make you a doctor.”

“Misleading or incorrect advice can lead to dangerous health outcomes. Always consult a qualified healthcare professional who can provide personalised and evidence-based guidance tailored to your individual needs. From a medical standpoint, it’s concerning when individuals without proper medical training give advice on social media. This trend can spread misinformation, leading to potential harm. While sharing personal experiences can be valuable, medical advice should come from licensed professionals who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to diagnose and treat health conditions accurately. For your health and safety, always rely on professional medical consultation rather than unverified online advice,” says Dr Sushila Kataria, Senior Director, Internal Medicine, Medanta.

WHAT IS HYDROGEN PEROXIDE NEBULISATION?Hydrogen peroxide nebulisation involves inhaling a mist of water diluted hydrogen peroxide through a nebuliser. Reports claim that the chemical can be used to treat respiratory infections, though doctors caution that there is no established scientific data to support this. America’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry labels hydrogen peroxide as a chemical that can be toxic if ingested or inhaled. It is generally used as a disinfecting agent.
“It has been empirically reported that hydrogen peroxide nebulisation can treat and reduce the risk of respiratory infections. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that it is effective when the results are compared to conventional treatments like bronchodilators, corticosteroids, and antibiotics,” says Dr Abha Mahashur, consultant pulmonologist.
“Online sources declare that nebulising hydrogen peroxide can kill viruses in the lungs. However, there is currently not enough scientific data to support this claim. Inhaling or ingesting hydrogen peroxide may cause serious harm,” adds Dr Shivkumar Utture, member of the Indian Medical Association. Those with medical problems like asthma, COPD, and chronic lung conditions are at a higher risk of experiencing adverse reactions after the use of hydrogen peroxide nebulisation,” cautions Dr Chhaya Vaja, internal medicine expert.

■ Irritation in the throat
■ Risk of infection Shortness of breath
■ Damage to lung tissue

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