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How Face Masks Protect You From Coronavirus

Posted by on June 29, 2020 in Health, Prevention with 1 Comment

Coronavirus is mainly spread via respiratory droplets. Wearing a face mask in public is the most effective measure of preventing human to human transmission. This, together with social distancing and good hygiene, are potent tools for the eradication of the virus.

Research indicates that quite a number of people with coronavirus are asymptomatic or don’t display any symptoms. However, they can still transmit the virus. Wearing a mask contains the tiny droplets that come out of your mouth or nose as you talk, sneeze, or cough. If you’re asymptomatic, wearing a face mask significantly reduces your chance of spreading the infection to other people. If you’re healthy, wearing one prevents you from getting the infection from people around you.

Are Face Masks Effective In Protecting You From Coronavirus?

According to studies, masks are quite effective in protecting people from viral illnesses and in this particular case from coronavirus. This is especially true when they are worn correctly and combined with other precautionary measures such as social distancing and hand washing. N95 respirators are considered to be most effective.

An ordinary face mask doesn't filter out particles the way an N95 mask does. However, they are relatively effective in slowing the spread of coronavirus, by people who have the virus but are asymptomatic and still getting out in public.

Coronavirus is easily spread when people are interacting in close proximity through speaking, sneezing, or coughing. In light of this, CDC now recommends that everyone wears face coverings in public spaces where social distancing is difficult to observe, especially in areas with high community-based transmission.

Some Reasons for The Increased Support for The Use of Face Masks

  • There is increasing evidence that people with no or mild symptoms are contributing to the spread of coronavirus. Face masks are, therefore, quite instrumental in curbing transmission.
  • Some studies have also shown that viral shedding of coronavirus is higher just before the onset of symptoms and approximately for the first 7-8 days after the onset.
  • Face masks have been used extensively in Asian countries since the SARS outbreak. They are attributed to a lower risk of SARS in healthy persons.
  • Non-medical face masks and other face covers are easily accessible and considered to provide adequate protection for the general public.

Studies Indicate That Wearing a Face Mask Protects You From Coronavirus?

There are several pieces of evidence supporting the efficacy of face masks in protecting people from infectious agents.

The first category of evidence is derived from laboratory studies on respiratory droplets and the ability of different types of masks to block them. An experiment conducted with a high-speed video discovered that when you say a simple phrase, you produce hundreds of droplets that range in size from 20 to 500 micrometers, but nearly all these droplets were blocked when the mouth was covered with a cloth.

Another study was conducted on a group of people with the common cold, and it concluded that wearing a surgical mask significantly reduces the number of viruses emitted in respiratory droplets and aerosols.

Research has also been conducted on coronavirus deaths across 198 countries and found that those that had enforced policies favoring wearing of masks in public spaces have lower death rates.

Both medical and non-medical masks offer different levels of protection and are instrumental in curbing the spread of coronavirus.

What Are The Different Kinds of Face Masks?

1. N95 Respirators

These are masks that have a perfect fit and can filter out at least 95 percent of particles 0.3 microns or larger. The N95 respirator is designed to create a seal around your nose and mouth, with some having a metallic nose piece that you mold onto your face for a perfect fit. When worn and fitted properly, the filtration capability of the N95 respirator exceeds that of the other types of masks.

Some N95 respirators are fitted with exhalation valves at the front to ease breathing and reduce heat build-up. It’s important to note that N95 respirators should not be shared and should primarily be reserved for health care professionals and first responders.

2. Surgical Masks

These come in quite a number of variations. However, due to their looser fit, they are considered less effective than N95 respirators. They are fluid-resistant and are designed to protect you from large droplets, splashes, or sprays of respiratory fluids. They also prevent exposure of the wearer’s droplets emitted through talking, coughing, and sneezing.

These masks come in different thicknesses and with varying abilities to protect you from contaminated droplets. They have ear loops and a rectangular covering, which in most cases, has pleats for it to expand and fit around your nose, mouth and chin.

Since these masks have a loose fit, they don’t provide a fool-proof barrier against droplets in the air. They should be worn once then disposed of.

3. Homemade Face Masks

Homemade face masks offer less protection, but nonetheless, they are instrumental in preventing the transmission of coronavirus by asymptomatic people.

Many people are designing their own masks. It’s important to note that a good homemade mask should consist of multiple layers of fabric and fit snugly on your face. Natural breathable fabrics such as cotton are preferred.

Cloth masks should be washed and sterilized regularly and ideally after each use. If you’re using a washing machine, the hot water setting with your normal detergent is considered ideal.

Once clean, it should be dried thoroughly either in a dryer or on a clothesline in direct sunlight. You should then store it to prevent any kind of contamination.

How To Wear a Face Mask Correctly

Unless you work in the medical field, you may never have had reason to wear a face mask. But in this era of coronavirus, you don’t have much of a choice with face masks becoming the new normal. The following are smart tips to get as much protection as possible from your mask.

  • Cover your nose and mouth: Wearing a face mask is one of the best ways of protecting yourself and others from the virus. However, it’s only effective when worn properly. When you have it on, you should ensure that it properly covers your nose and mouth. Ideally, this should be from the very top of your nose just below your eyes to your chin, though this depends with the type of mask.
  • Fit snugly, but comfortably: Wearing a mask may take some time to get used to, but should never restrict your ability to breath. Your mask should not be uncomfortably tight, but there should be no gaps between your face and the mask. Small gaps may be unavoidable, but the fewer and smaller they are, the better. Ensuring a proper fit also helps you to avoid re-adjusting your mask, which can cause cross-contamination. Wearing a mask that doesn’t adequately cover your mouth and nose is also counterproductive.
  • Wash or Sanitize Your Hands Before or After Wearing a Mask: Putting on a mask with contaminated hands isn’t helpful. The key to keeping your mask as sanitary as possible is to wash or sanitize your hands before wearing it. You should also pick it up by the straps as you put it on. Cross-contamination can occur when you touch your mask after touching a contaminated surface, so you should avoid reaching under your mask even when you have an itch. It is also recommended that you use the speaker mode when on the phone to prevent contamination.

How Long Should You Be Wearing a Face Mask?

It is recommended that you wear a face mask whenever you are in public spaces. However, if you’ve handled it with unclean hands or it’s become damp due to your breathing or environmental conditions, then you should take it off. Reason being wet masks cling to airborne particles and may draw in contaminated droplets.

When you’re outdoors, you may be required to have your mask on for long durations. It is recommended that you carry a spare mask in case you need a change.

Is it Healthy For Everyone to Wear a Face Mask?

If you are perfectly healthy with no pre-existing condition wearing a face mask is highly recommended. However, if you have a cardiovascular or respiratory condition, it is recommended that you first consult your doctor before using a face mask. People experiencing conditions such as, but not limited to should refrain from wearing face masks until they consult with their doctor;

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD)
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma

Are You Totally Safe With a Face Mask?

It’s important to note that a face mask alone may not give you complete protection from infectious agents. It should be used as a complementary measure and never as a replacement for other measures such as social distancing, hand washing, respiratory etiquette, and not touching your face.

Before the current pandemic, you would probably have never considered wearing a mask, and you might even think the practice is excessive. However, it is widely recommended by governments and bodies such as the CDC.

Disclaimer: Content from the website and blog is not intended to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  The information provided on this website is intended for general consumer understanding and is NOT intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  As health and nutrition research continuously evolves, we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of any information presented on this website.

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1 Reader Comment

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  1. Albert says:

    STOP perpetrating the Big Lie. Your logic is simply a DECEPTION Because studies are really proving the opposite of what you proclaim.

    All you have said is a regurgitation of Propaganda.

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