Ask Dr. Nandi: Separating coronavirus fact from fiction

Posted at 5:35 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 21:05:19-04

(WXYZ) — As the coronavirus continues to spread, so does false information. Our Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi is separating fact from fiction.

Let’s start with ibuprofen. If you’re infected with the coronavirus, can anti-inflammatory painkillers make it worse?

I can understand the concern since this advice was suggested by France’s health minister who said anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can aggravate the infection. But there’s been no data or evidence to back this up.

So right now there is no reason to avoid ibuprofen, as long as you’re using it temporarily. If you use it long-term, then you need to be aware that it’s not risk-free. And that you could end up with health issues like kidney damage, intestinal bleeding, and cardiovascular problems.

There’s been an email passed around saying that gargling with salt water can kill the virus and deep breathing means you’re not infected. It’s advice supposedly from Stanford University, is this true?

I can tell you that it’s not from Stanford University, unfortunately, it’s just more misinformation being passed around.

So let me be direct about this, taking a deep breath and holding it for 10 seconds is not a way to check to see if the virus is in your lungs. There are folks who won’t be able to do this and it’s not because they have the virus. It’s more likely that they have other health conditions like asthma or heart disease.

Now, as for gargling with salt water, no, this will not protect you from getting COVID-19. Neither will drinking hot liquids or sipping water every 15 minutes.

Now, are these harmful to do? Unlikely. But it’s more important that we focus on what everyone can actually do to stop the spread of the virus. And that’s wash your hands often, clean and disinfect, practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible, especially if you’re sick.

Last question, do vitamin C supplements stop you from catching COVID-19?

Great question as I get asked this all the time. And the answer is no.

There is no evidence that suggests vitamin C supplements will protect you against the coronavirus. Now I’m not saying that vitamin C is not important for your body. It is. It’s an antioxidant that we need for immune function. It helps protect connective tissues against pathogens and it neutralizes free radicals, stopping them from damaging bodily tissues.

So you do want to make sure that you’re getting enough Vitamin C in your diet. But you don’t need vitamin megadoses. You can get enough vitamin C from citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruit.

And speaking of food, I believe that food is medicine. And now is the time to cut back on processed foods and added sugars. Feed your immune system. Focus on healthy whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats. Food is the best way to get the nutrients you need and a great way to support your immune system.