Claim: Holding your breath for a specific time helps in testing your lung function
Source: Viral video
Researched by Gifty Tracy Aminu
How healthy are your lungs and does holding one’s breath help in testing the strength of lung function?
A viral video is suggesting an exercise that involves holding your breath between 15 seconds and 1 minute 19 seconds can help you determine whether your lungs are functioning normally or are super healthy.
Viewed more than 19 million times, the video produced by Zydus hospital in India has been shared widely across multiple platforms including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. According to Zydus hospital, “it has a mission to extend world-class healthcare solutions to the community through advances in medical technology, medical research and by adopting best man management practices.”
GhanaFact in verifying this video has spoken to some experts and sent out an email to Zydus hospital after concerns that the exercise might not be necessarily safe and has not been validated by any major medical professional group. This fact-check report will be updated when we get a response from Zydus hospital.
“Generally, the longer an individual can hold his/her breath, the healthier your lungs are (the more your Vital Capacity maybe) and the better your cardiopulmonary reserves. This simulation may approximate a bedside lung test (known as the breath-holding test of Sabrasez). However, extended breath-holding as a challenge/competition may also have detrimental effects on the participants,” Specialist Anaesthesiologist at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr. Jonas Afari, and Dr. Akosua Hemeng Amankwah of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust UK, told GhanaFact.
After studying the viral video, the two medical professionals further said: “It is not validated or accepted by major medical professional groups (Respiratory Physicians etc).
According to them there are simpler and more acceptable ways of assessing lung performance like exercise tolerance – by how far a person can walk – using a spirometer or peak flow meter at the bedside to more complex/invasive means like analyzing blood gases.
“Though it may be quick and easy, it’s not necessarily safe or accurate…making it rather unnecessary.” Dr. Jonas Afari and Dr. Akosua Hemeng Amankwah emphasised in their response to GhanaFact.
The Vice President of the Ghana Medical Association(GMA) Dr. Frank Serebour has also cautioned the public after assessing the video.“There is no evidence supporting the exercise. Holding breathe does not measure lung function,” he said.
A similar claim that one’s ability to hold your breath can help in determining whether you have been infected with COVID-19 or not was debunked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) during the early days of the pandemic.
“Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort DOES NOT mean you are free from COVID-19,” the World Health Organisation (WHO) said. GhanaFact has flagged as FALSE this same claim in the past.
The claim that holding your breath for a specific time helps in testing your lung function is UNPROVEN.