Fact Check: Holding your breath for 10 seconds – Coronavirus Test


Holding your breath for 10 seconds, is it fact or fiction that it’s a good test for fibrosis in your lungs and the presence of coronavirus?

This information appeared fairly early on in the coronavirus outbreak. As with many similar claims, it always starts with ‘Experts claim’ or some such pseudo validation.

Here’s an example that I recently received,

Experts suggest doing this simple verification every morning: Breathe in deeply and hold your breath for 10 seconds. If this can be done without coughing, without difficulty, this shows that there is no fibrosis in the lungs, indicating the absence of infection. It is recommended to do this control every morning to help detect infection.

On the face of it, it sounds so simple. And you’ll be thinking, here’s a simple test that everyone can do at any time to determine the health of their lungs and the presence or absence of coronavirus.

Unfortunately it is complete nonsense.

Fact Check – FAILED

While a serious COVID-19 infection that had reached your lungs might affect your ability to hold your breath, remember that most people will have a mild illness. Even at the height of the infection, they may be able to hold their breath comfortably for as long as they want.

So your ability to hold your breath has nothing to do with coronavirus infection.

Fibrosis in the lungs (pulmonary fibrosis) refers to scarring of lung tissue. In patients who have died, there has been some evidence of fibrosis.

However people without coronavirus can have fibrosis in the lungs for any number of reasons. And most people with coronavirus who experience a mild to medium illness are unlikely to develop fibrosis.

So the 10 second holding your breath test has no direct correlation to the presence or absence of the coronavirus infection.

It’s just another social media claim that caught on because it seems so simple. That’s not to say that people are gullible. They are scared, and rightly so. Coronavirus is changing our society and our social norms, and people are dying. Folks are just looking for any help they can get.

Unfortunately there’s a lot of fake help out there. Be safe.

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