Scientists still have a lot to figure out about the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. And where there’s a lack of concrete information, there’s often a flood of well-meaning advice, hopeful rumors, and blatant bad information that gets circulated among people digitally or in person.
Take the idea that drinking water every 15 minutes might flush out the coronavirus and protect you from COVID-19. Facebook posts claimed the advice came from Japanese doctors, and that sipping would wash the virus down your throat and into the stomach where stomach acid would kill the virus.
In reality, it doesn’t work that way. Drinking water frequently isn’t bad for you—check out how much you really need in a day here. (It’s not necessarily 8 glasses.) You just can’t expect it to “flush out” the novel coronavirus. As Krys Johnson, PhD, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Temple University, put it to the myth-busting site Factcheck.org, water consumption “has no bearing on the virus getting into your airways and lungs; if you breathe an infected person’s respiratory droplets, the virus will travel through your airways.”
The best use of water to prevent COVID-19: You knew “wash your hands” was going to come up somewhere, so here there it is. You know what to do. It’s not that the virus enters your body through your hands, it’s that your hands touch your face, and the virus gets into your mucus membranes that way. So you’ve got to wash it off before it can get inside and cause you trouble.
Another water-based myth that’s also floating around the internet is that taking a bath in very hot water can prevent a COVID-19 infection. The theory is that it would raise your body temperature and deactivate the virus. But the WHO says, “Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C [97.7 to 98.6], regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you.”
Of course, you should still drink water and bathe as you like in a day. Just don’t expect them to miraculously protect you from COVID-19. Get a refresher from the CDC on what does actually help protect you from the disease here.
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