VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Viral advisory against drinking cold water amid heat NOT TRUE

As the country experienced blazing hot weather this month, a two-year-old Facebook post warning against drinking ice-cold water amid temperatures of 38 to 40 degrees as this would cause “micro blood vessels to explode” resurfaced. This is not true.

Blood vessels “do not explode on exposure to cold,” according to VERA Files Fact Check’s email interview on May 7 with neurologist Jose Paciano Reyes, who is also president of the Philippine Neurological Association.

The opposite actually happens: “The physiologic response to cold exposure causes skin blood vessels to constrict to conserve heat.”

The erroneous advisory, published as a repost from an unknown source in April 2019 by the FB page of local gym Fusion Fitness, also warned against washing the face, hands or feet with very cold water in hot weather because it will supposedly cause temperature shock.

It also suggests that people take “30 minutes to allow the body to cool down and adjust to the indoor temperature,” and to drink lukewarm water instead.

Reyes did say that the sudden immersion of the body in cold water can cause “cold shock” in which there is an immediate loss of breathing control, constriction of blood vessels, and an increase in blood pressure.

But drinking and bathing with cold water is “usually not a problem for healthy individuals,” said Reyes, adding that it has some benefits, including cooling down the body, preventing overheating and reducing inflammation.

However, Reyes warned that this practice may “not be a good idea in individuals with cardiac disease.” The increase in blood pressure and cardiac workload may increase the chances of a heart attack and stroke in susceptible individuals, he said.

ABS-CBN and Indian news organization The Quint have also debunked the same claim in 2019.

FB’s internal monitoring tool recorded the revival of the two-year-old post a week after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration announced the start of the dry season. It continued to gain traction among Filipino netizens through May, when the country’s heat index hit record high levels.

The false post has over 58,000 shares, 13,000 reactions and 9,900 comments.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)