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JK Rowling, the world doesn’t need your breathing technique to cure coronavirus

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A file image of J.K. Rowling | Commons
A file image of J.K. Rowling | Commons


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Harry Potter author JK Rowling says a breathing technique has helped her coronavirus-like respiratory symptoms, a claim that has been widely reported and shared on social media.

Her tweet includes a video from a UK hospital doctor describing the technique, a type of controlled coughing. This involves taking six deep breaths and on the last one covering your mouth and coughing.

The internet is full of home grown cures for the coronavirus. And when doctors propose them, they appear credible.

While special breathing techniques have their place in hospital, under the supervision of a respiratory physiotherapist or respiratory doctor, and for certain medical conditions, using them at home to manage coronavirus symptoms could be dangerous.

The technique in the video could help spread the coronavirus to people close by.

By coughing, you could directly infect people with droplets, or these droplets on someone’s hands can be transferred to a surface others can touch.

So JK Rowling’s well-meaning advice could inadvertently help spread the virus to your family, or to the person next to you on the bus.

Controlled coughing helps with cystic fibrosis

The cells in our lungs produce a sticky mucus as part of our body’s defence system. And when we have a viral lung infection, such as with the virus that causes COVID-19 or the influenza virus, we produce more of it.

The mucus traps the invading pathogen. Normally, this mucus is removed from the lungs by the movement of tiny hair-like projections in our airways. From there, we either swallow the mucus or cough it out as phlegm.

However, sometimes we produce so much mucus it is difficult to breathe. The mucus can block our tiny airways, preventing us from obtaining oxygen from our lungs.

In other diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, controlled coughing can help remove the mucus and make it easier for people to breathe.

This technique may be done as part of chest physiotherapy, along with other lung clearance techniques, in a hospital. The technique is not dangerous, but the contents of what is coughed out can be.


Also read:104 of 5,911 respiratory illness cases have Covid, 40 with no travel, contact history: ICMR


So can it help with the coronavirus?

So what’s the evidence controlled coughing could help people manage their coronavirus symptoms? Put simply, there are no clinical trials or good evidence.

One common COVID-19 symptom is a dry cough. So it’s difficult to imagine why controlled coughing would help when you’re coughing so much anyway.


Also read :The four stages of Covid-19 transmission & why India maintains it is not yet in stage 3


Is there any harm in trying?

There is a very real risk that unintentionally this technique would actually spread the virus.

When we cough we produce a lot of droplets of mucus from the lungs that are spread as a spray. My research has also shown breathing out forcefully is enough to propel viruses from the lungs this way.

Either way large sprays of viruses could infect other people.

In hospital, this risk is minimised by having specialised negative pressure rooms that remove the contaminated air. Patients wear masks to capture the sprays and clinical staff wear personal protective equipment, including masks and face shields. There are also strict infection control measures, such as limits on visitors and hand washing. Yet the risks of transmission remain high.


Also read: In UK, 5G towers are being burnt after conspiracy theory that they spread coronavirus


But if you practise controlled coughing at home or on the bus, it’s easy to see how you could inadvertently spread the virus.

And of course, the technique doesn’t kill the virus or cure anyone.

So what are we to make of all this?

So why did JK Rowling endorse this technique? In essence, it’s because she believed it helped her, and thought it would help others.

However, her tweet says she hadn’t been tested for COVID-19, so it’s not certain she had the infection. And she may or may not have benefited from the technique. Perhaps her symptoms may have improved by themselves anyway. It’s hard to know.

My advice is to seek medical advice if you suspect you have the coronavirus rather than rely on testimonials, however well meaning.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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