According to IITM researchers their study unravels the mystery of how the particles get transported and deposited deep in the lungs Credit: Representational image

Holding your breath may increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 viral infection states researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM). The researchers believe that a decrease in breathing frequency can result in the virus-laden droplets being transported deep into the lungs.

The team of researchers from IITM modelled the breathing frequency in a laboratory and were able to find that low breathing frequency increased the time of residence of coronavirus and therefore increases chances of deposition, consequently leading to the infection. Additionally, the multiscale lung structure also has a significant effect on a person’s susceptibility to COVID-19.

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Prof Mahesh Panchagnula from the Department of Applied Mechanics-IITM led the research with his research scholars, Arnab Kumar Mallik and Soumalya Mukherjee-IITM, and their findings were published in the journal Physics of Fluids.

According to Panchgnula, this virus has opened a gap in the understanding of deep pulmonological systemic diseases. Their study unravels the mystery of how the particles get transported and deposited deep in the lungs. During the research, the team was also able to find that holding the breath and having a low breathing rate can increase the chances of virus deposition in the lungs.

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The study aimed to pave way for developing better drugs and therapies for respiratory infections. Earlier works from the team also highlighted the significant variability in aerosol uptake from one person to another. This suggests a reason why some people are more susceptible to airborne diseases than others.

The team imitated the droplet dynamics in the lung by researching the movement of droplets in the small capillaries which had a diameter similar to bronchioles.

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