Pre-infected $80 tissues claim to help you prepare for flu season. Here's what doctors have to say.

Is blowing your nose the answer? (Photo: Getty Images)
Is blowing your nose the answer? (Photo: Getty Images)

You know the drill when it comes to protecting yourself from getting sick during cold and flu season: Get your flu shot, try to avoid sick people and wash your hands regularly. But one company claims that its used tissues can also help protect you during this time. Oh — and they’ll set you back $80 a box.

“We believe using a tissue that carries a human sneeze is safer than needles or pills,” the makers of Vaev tissues say on the company’s website. “This isn’t like any tissue you’ve used before, but we love using them, and you will too.” The marketing material also says that using their products will help you “get sick on your terms,” adding, “we’re not about chemicals or prescription drugs here at Vaev.”

While the company states on its website that its tissue “carries a human sneeze,” it later explains on the product page that it’s “specifically engineered to contain and absorb colloid buildup, salts, antiseptic enzymes, immunoglobulins, and glycoproteins such as lactoferrin and mucins, produced by goblet cells in the mucous membranes and submucosal glands,” suggesting that the tissues are manufactured rather than sneezed into by random people. (A representative for Vaev did not respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.)

Vaev tissues. (Photo: Vaev)
Vaev tissues. (Photo: Vaev)

Still, this doesn’t exactly make sense to infectious disease experts. “That’s bizarre,” Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease physician in Akron, Ohio, and an associate professor of internal medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “This seems like a total waste of money.”

“This is potentially hazardous if it does work, and I don’t think that it does,” William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “There are over 200 common cold viruses out there. Suppose you get infected with one — you can still get infected again because there are other cold viruses out there.”

Not only that, Schaffner says, but the viruses that are on the tissue may not even survive the journey between their manufacturing and your doorstep.

Even if you did want to make yourself sick on your own schedule, “there’s no evidence that this is going to work,” infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. To make yourself sick, you’d generally need to get a virus into your nose, and that’s not how people typically use tissues. “You’re usually sneezing into tissues, not sticking it up your nose,” Adalja says.

The best way to lower the odds that you’ll get sick during cold and flu season is to stick with proven methods, Watkins says. “Germ avoidance should be the mantra; not deliberately trying to make yourself sick,” he says. “That includes getting your flu shot, which it’s not too late to do,” Adalja says.

“Save your $80,” Schaffner adds. “This whole thing is a cockamamie idea.”

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