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US Doctor Warns That Applying Vicks On Your Nose Can Cause Serious Lung Problems

Pulmonologist Dr Hawa J Edriss says inhaling too much Vicks' VapoRub can cause exogenous lipoid pneumonia (ELP).

Cover image via Home Hacks Los Angeles Times/YouTube

Are you one of those people who love to apply Vicks' VapoRub on your nose when you are having a runny nose?

If you are, this doctor in the United States is advising you not to.

According to Dr Hawa J Edriss, a pulmonologist from St Joseph Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, inhaling too much Vicks VapoRub can cause serious damage to the lungs.

In a Facebook post, Dr Hawa shared a story of a middle-aged patient who suffered exogenous lipoid pneumonia (ELP), a respiratory condition, due to a habit of applying Vicks VapoRub on his nostrils for the past 10 years.

The post, published on 29 December 2019, went viral with over 22,000 shares and 5,600 reactions.

Dr Hawa said the man suffered 10 years of nasal congestion and was often admitted to healthcare centres for respiratory distress

However, the doctor said that the man was believed to be diagnosed wrongly with pneumonia in each occasion and only received antibiotics for treatment. 

His condition persisted throughout the years with no sign of getting better. 

Under her care, Dr Hawa was able to accurately diagnose him with ELP, a condition for inhaling too much fatty substances

ELP is an underdiagnosed and rare condition.

The doctor shared two computerised tomography (CT) scan of the man's lungs and pointed out that he is suffering from lung opacities - which is caused by a decreased ratio of gas to soft tissues in the lungs.

"It is caused by inhalation or aspiration of animal fat or vegetable or mineral oil," Dr Hawa explained, "It can manifest radiologically within 30 minutes of the event of aspiration or inhalation, and lung opacities can be appear in most patients within 24 hours."

To prevent this condition, Dr Hawa strongly advised against applying Vick's VapoRub or oil-based materials to the nostrils

The doctor said these products can be detrimental to the lungs with prolonged exposure as they contain substances like "petrolatum, eucalyptus oil, cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol, and turpentine oil".

Heathline reported that leaving ELP untreated can result in permanent lung damage caused by severe inflammation. Some of ELP's symptoms include:

- Chest pain,
- Chronic cough,
- Difficulty breathing,
- Coughing up blood, 
- Fever, 
- Weight loss, 
- Night sweats, and 
- Difficulty in swallowing.

According to Vicks' website, the right place to apply VapoRub is on the chest or throat - not nostrils

The website then advises to keep clothing around the throat and chest loose "to allow the vapours to reach the nose and mouth".

On the product box, it is stated that Vicks VapoRub should not be used "by mouth, with tight bandages, or heating pads, in nostrils, on wounds, or damaged skins".

Image via SAYS

You can read Dr Hawa's full post here:

A middle aged man who chronically applies Vick’s VapoRub gel nasally for many years > 10 years for nasal congestion,...

Posted by Hawa J Edriss on Saturday, December 28, 2019

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