There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of nebulizing hydrogen peroxide as a treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and it may have dangerous side effects.
Some online sources declare that nebulizing hydrogen peroxide can kill viruses in the lungs. However, there is currently not enough evidence to support this claim. Inhaling or ingesting hydrogen peroxide may cause serious harm.
This article looks at the safety profile of nebulizing hydrogen peroxide and suggests alternative treatments for COPD.
At room temperature, hydrogen peroxide is a colorless liquid. It also occurs naturally in small amounts as a gas in the air. Some household cleaning products or bleaches may contain hydrogen peroxide.
A nebulizer is a medical device that changes liquid medication into a mist, which people can inhale through a mouthpiece or mask.
Some online sources recommend that people use a nebulizer to inhale a solution of diluted hydrogen peroxide and saline water as a treatment for various lung conditions.
The COPD Foundation states that nebulizing hydrogen peroxide is dangerous and does not recommend it for the treatment of COPD or any other lung condition.
There is not yet enough scientific evidence to support the use of hydrogen peroxide as an effective or safe treatment for COPD.
The foundation advises people to speak with a doctor about treatments for COPD rather than using nebulized hydrogen peroxide as an alternative therapy.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved nebulized hydrogen peroxide for any medical use, including the treatment of COPD or other chronic lung diseases.
Hydrogen peroxide can be toxic if people ingest or inhale it or if it makes contact with the skin or eyes. Exposure to hydrogen peroxide can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
Inhaling hydrogen peroxide can result in:
- nose and throat irritation
- lung irritation
- pulmonary edema, a buildup of fluid in the lungs, which is a medical emergency and can be fatal
Ingesting diluted solutions of hydrogen peroxide may lead to:
- throat irritation
- mild irritation of the gastrointestinal system
In addition to the above, ingesting higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can cause tissue burns and severe stomach upset. In rare cases, it can lead to a gas embolism, which is when bubbles of air or gas travel to the circulatory system. This embolism can cause a blockage and result in a stroke.
These complications can sometimes be fatal.
People with COPD may use a nebulizer as a way of taking COPD medication. A nebulizer can help deliver COPD medication deep into the lungs to treat the condition.
Taking COPD medication as a doctor prescribes can play an important role in managing the condition successfully.
When using a nebulizer, people will need to follow any instructions from a healthcare professional to make sure that the device stays clean and that they are taking their medication correctly.
Medications that people may take for COPD include:
- Bronchodilators: People may take bronchodilators through a nebulizer or inhaler. These medicines help relax the muscles around the airways to make it easier to breathe.
- Anti-inflammatories: People may take steroids or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. This can help reduce swelling and mucus in the airways, making it easier to breathe. People may take this medication orally as a pill or through an inhaler.
- Combination medication: People may take a combination of corticosteroids and bronchodilators through an inhaler or nebulizer. This treatment may help provide short-term symptom relief or more gradual, longer-term relief.
- Antibiotics: The presence of a bacterial or viral infection may worsen the symptoms of COPD. People may require a course of antibiotics to fight the virus.
COPD medications can cause side effects, so people should discuss with a doctor the potential risks of any medication they are taking.
It is also advisable for people with COPD to get vaccines to protect against the flu and pneumonia.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) states that nebulized hydrogen peroxide does not prevent or treat COVID-19 and that inhaling hydrogen peroxide may cause damage to the lungs.
- getting vaccinated against COVID-19
- wearing a mask if indoors in public areas
- avoiding close contact with people who have a SARS-CoV-2 infection
- avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor areas, if at risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19
- taking a SARS-CoV-2 test if any symptoms are present
- washing the hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer
- covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing to prevent droplets from spreading
- cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that people regularly touch
The severity of COVID-19 will likely determine the treatment. People with mild symptoms can usually recover at home with rest, hydration, and over-the-counter medications.
For more severe cases, doctors may recommend treatment with antivirals or monoclonal antibodies, which support the immune system in fighting the virus.
Some online sources suggest using a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide and saline water to treat various lung conditions.
Organizations such as the COPD Foundation and the AAFA state that using nebulized hydrogen peroxide to treat COPD or any lung conditions is dangerous and may cause serious side effects.
There is currently no scientific evidence to support nebulized hydrogen peroxide as a prevention or treatment method for COVID-19.
Inhaling or ingesting hydrogen peroxide can irritate or damage the respiratory system. It can also be harmful if it comes into contact with the eyes or skin.
People with COPD can talk with a doctor about their treatment options. Using a nebulizer to take COPD medication may be an effective way of helping manage the symptoms.