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COVID-19 news from Annals of Internal Medicine

All coronavirus-related content published in Annals is free

American College of Physicians

Below please find a summary and link(s) of new coronavirus-related content published today in Annals of Internal Medicine. The summary below is not intended to substitute for the full article as a source of information. A collection of coronavirus-related content is free to the public at

A Dangerous Myth: Does Speaking Imply Breathing?

The belief that a person's ability to speak precludes the possibility of suffocation is false and can have fatal consequences. A commentary from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reviews basic respiratory physiology and highlights the clinician's role in educating the public against relying on speech as a sign of adequate respiration, especially when this misconception is used to propagate injustice or violence. The authors explain that air hunger is the most uncomfortable and emotionally distressing quality of dyspnea. Data from studies of war and torture victims show that the sensation of suffocation is the single strongest predictor of posttraumatic stress disorder and can cause more persistent psychological damage than mock execution with a pistol. This finding suggests that clinicians have a fundamental responsibility to serve as advocates for persons who report respiratory distress. Read the full text:

Media contacts: A PDF for this article is not yet available. Please click the link to read full text. The lead author, Anica C. Law, MD, MS, can be reached through Jackie Mitchel at


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