When it comes to wearing a mask during these crazy times, we all have mixed opinions. Many are still asking, “Can face masks help slow the spread of the coronavirus?” The answer: Yes. Together with the other safety protocols such as frequent hand-washing and physical distancing, masks can slow down the spread of the virus. The World Health Organization, medical experts, and healthcare professionals alike are reiterating the importance of proper use of face masks.
Skeptics were quick to ask why face masks were not recommended when the pandemic first started. The truth is, experts at that time were not aware that the disease was so highly contagious. They were also not aware that a person who is a carrier of the virus can unknowingly spread it before the symptoms appear.
There are certain myths about the use of face masks. The most common are listed below, and we will try to give rationale about why these are myths rather than the facts:
- Cloth masks do not protect you
Fact: Cloth face masks are effective. Cloth masks are intended to trap droplets that are released when the wearer talks, coughs, or sneezes. Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus when they are widely used by people in public settings.
Masks can be made from common materials, such as sheets made of tightly woven cotton. Instructions are easy to find online. Cloth masks should include multiple layers of fabric.
- Masks can cause carbon dioxide build-up
Fact: Properly worn masks offer adequate airflow while still covering your nose and mouth, making it impossible for carbon dioxide to accumulate. CDC provided guidelines on how to effectively use your face mask and they highlight how important it is to find the right fit for you.
- Wear masks when exercising in observance of the protocols for COVID-19
Fact: People should NOT wear masks when exercising, as masks may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably. Sweat can make the mask wet more quickly which makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of microorganisms. The most important preventive measure during exercise is to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from others.
- Other masks are more effective than cloth face masks.
Fact: Different types of masks serve different purposes, but cloth masks are highly effective for the public. The average person who is not working in a medical environment with COVID-19 patients can wear a cloth masks. While surgical and N95 masks may be in short supply and should be reserved for health care providers, cloth face coverings and masks are easy to find or make and can be washed and reused.
What is the difference between a surgical mask and an N95 mask?
Like N95 masks, surgical masks also filter out large particles in the air. Surgical masks may protect others by reducing exposure to the saliva and respiratory secretions of the mask wearer. However, N95 masks offer more protection than surgical masks do because they can filter out both large and small particles when the wearer inhales. As the name indicates, the N95 mask is designed to block 95% of tiny particles. Some N95 masks have valves that make them easier to breathe through.
Your protection is the most important for our healthcare workers. Though you may hear information that is contradictory to the facts we have presented, it is still better to follow protocols. Being cautious while you’re healthy is always better than waiting on a cure, and nowadays keeping yourself safe and healthy should be your main priority. Wear your mask, always.