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The following video is quickly making rounds via social media.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-011iO4esA

The video claims Dr. Dan Lee Dimke has found that raising the temperature of the sinuses to 56°C (133°F) for 15 minutes is an effective cure for upper respiratory viruses, specifically SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. Several methods for achieving this provided in the video are (1) a hot desert (simple, but not accessible to general world populations), (2) a sauna (more accessible), and (3) using a hair dryer (more accessible than a sauna to many, but more complicated to perform).

Because the WHO, CDC, and general media have not yet advocated this solution. Are there any peer reviewed studies regarding the efficacy of heating the sinuses as a treatment for COVID-19, or more generally upper respiratory diseases?

I found this review from this answer, but that review is limited to treating symptoms, not the actual cause of respiratory infection. The review is also legitimately questioned in the answer's comments

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    Please don't use comments to share your speculative answers. If we wanted those, we could use social media. – Oddthinking Mar 18 '20 at 3:56
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    I'm new to skeptics. Could downvoters please let me know what can be done to improve the question? – psaxton Mar 18 '20 at 15:16
  • "Video unavailable This video has been removed by the user" – Lag Mar 21 '20 at 17:21
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    Passing hot air through the nasal passage would not actually raise the temperature of the sinus membranes, throughout, to that temperature. So how does one raise the sinus temperatures to 133/56 without serious harm to the patient/subject? I mean, throw me in a 400 degree oven for an hour and you'll probably kill the virus.... – PoloHoleSet Mar 25 '20 at 16:19
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"Are there any peer reviewed studies regarding the efficacy of heating the sinuses as a treatment for COVID-19, or more generally upper respiratory diseases?"

No. None that I could find. Since the virus is systemic, including deep in the lungs, where it causes pneumonia as the most dangerous manifestation of COVID-19, I don't see how "heating the sinuses" could possibly work as a cure in general. Maybe as symptom relief... in the sinuses. (But that has been discussed here before.) Heating someone's lungs to 56C is probably extremely unsafe, if not outright lethal because

Temperatures above 49°C lead to irreversible cell damage as a result of protein denaturation. This thermal destruction process is markedly dependent on time.

So yeah, the usual joke about the treatment being successful, but the patient succumbing applies here.

As far as I know, the only cure candidates for COVID-19 that are seriously being tried (i.e. in genuine/non-crackpot medical settings) are antiviral drugs, after showing promising results in vitro. But even for antiviral drugs, there's the question whether:

Can the drug, which is given intravenously into the bloodstream, reach the cells it needs to clear the respiratory infection?

“We don’t know if the amount of remdesivir that’s going to get into the lungs is enough to get the virus down,” said Andre Kalil, an infectious disease specialist at University of Nebraska Medical Center and an investigator in the NIAID-sponsored trial. “This is part of the reason we’re doing the study.”

(Vaccines are also under development/trials, but that's not a cure if you have an illness already. Monoclonal (and even polyclonal) antibody therapy, which [roughly speaking] is the equivalent of a vaccine after you are sick already, is also being considered for COVID-19.)

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  • Reading the original claim - I think it refers to breathing in air that is above 136 degrees, not raising the internal temperature, as this is commonly done in a sauna. – Mayo Mar 23 '20 at 15:32
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The linked video was taken down. While searching for an original link, it appears the original source is now (partially) disclaiming the efficacy of the treatment: https://future-world.com/mcatalog/stop-covid-19-now/

This doesn't answer the original question as asked so I will leave this question open in search of studies of the efficacy of using heat to treat COVID-19/general upper respiratory infections.

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  • I would wonder if the reason of the takedown was missinformation... If the youtube link is no longer valid, shouldn't you consider editing the question and adding this information into it? – bradbury9 Nov 17 '20 at 14:18
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I'm not a doctor but it seems unlikely this treatment would work for 2 reasons:

  • The proposed heat is very high in comparison to normal body temperature and temperature used in other heat-treatments
  • There is no empirical evidence presented (are visitors of saunas less susceptible?). This can change of course.

However it is not a strange idea as there do exist real medical treatments based on heating part of the body. After all heat alters, that is, damages, proteins. And while our body can bounce back from little damage, the idea is that whatever you are trying to cure can not do this very well.

Heat treatment on or inside the human body is used against cancer and also against venomous stings. But the temperature is raised to 40 to 42 degrees Celsius.

Heat treatment is used outside the body: face masks can be reused after heat treatment.

While it is true that Covid-19 affects the lungs, it starts in the sinuses so again the idea is not entirely crazy.

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  • Not sure why the down votes. Thank you for the links regarding that treatments for cancer, venom and masks! – psaxton Nov 17 '20 at 5:58
  • @psaxton:: This answer basically says "I have no idea what the answer to the question is, but a different treatment for completely different conditions works, so in my non expert opinion, it might just work." This is not up to our standards. – Oddthinking Nov 17 '20 at 8:41
  • @Oddthinking, not quite. "I have no idea what the answer to the question is, but the proposed treatment of raising heat of the part of the human body is a proven treatment against some other conditions and raising heat is scientifically proven to inactivate the virus." Also "But there is no evidence that it works in this case or that it can be safely applied" – Ivana Nov 17 '20 at 12:48
  • Bleach also deactivates the virus. It is dangerous and wrong to suggest ingesting bleach. This is the same quality. Please fix or delete. – Oddthinking Nov 17 '20 at 14:27
  • xkcd.com/1217 – DenisS Nov 17 '20 at 21:16

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