Few individuals love wearing a fabric face mask. As stated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people should wear masks for going out during the pandemic in public areas. Although protecting your mouth and nose can be extremely difficult if you have a chronic respiratory disease such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The mask’s physical barrier makes it difficult to breathe in oxygen; when you exhale, it even traps more carbon dioxide, ensuring you end up taking in colder and moister oxygen. Add to the mix a weakened breathing tract, and a mask will feel downright suffocating.
Sadly, as summer approaches, the feeling of having trouble breathing in a mask could get even worse. In hot, humid air, many people with chronic lung problems find it more difficult to breathe, although others do poorly when the weather is cold and dry.
Health authorities warn that going mask-free if you’re in busy public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic is a huge no-no, as enticing as it may be to miss the face mask.
Neil Schachter, MD, professor of medicine, pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, says, “I certainly suggest using a face mask for everybody at this time, especially for people with asthma and COPD.” We need to safeguard those at risk, particularly those with vulnerable airways.
Here is some expert advice you can follow to stay safe when wearing a mask is challenging.
Stay At Home
There is no need to wear a mask in your home unless you are infected, or someone else in your family does. Since individuals with respiratory problems such as asthma and COPD are more likely to experience symptoms if they contract coronavirus, it is safer to have food and groceries delivered or make someone else pick it up for you.
Tania Elliott, MD, a spokeswoman for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and an allergist/immunologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, says, “Avoid public spaces as far as possible.”
Check The Weather
Check the forecast first if you have to head out. When it’s hot and sticky, many people find it more difficult to breathe, so try to choose a day when it’s a little cooler outdoors or go first thing in the morning or later in the evening.
Another big problem for persons with respiratory conditions is air quality, says Adrian Rawlinson, MD, vice president of medical affairs for the telehealth business Upswing Health. Go to airnow.gov and enter your zip code to find out today before venturing out how the air quality is in your city.
Practice At Home
“Many individuals find that it takes a few days to adapt to wearing a mask, and because of the heightened sensation of breathlessness, the accommodation time can be longer for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma or COPD,” says Dr. Schachter. “In order to get used to the feeling, I propose continuing to wear the mask at home for brief periods.”
Pick A Comfortable Face Covering
Do not use N95 masks. They should be reserved for healthcare professionals. Compared with other kinds of masks, they are the most effective at blocking viruses and tiny droplets, but they are often more difficult to breathe through. Instead of N-95 respirators or even surgical masks for venturing out in public, the CDC actually advises that most people opt for fabric face coverings.
Look for a mask made from a breathable and moisture-wicking cloth, says Dr. Elliott. If you’re still suffering, maybe you’re better off with a bandana or neck gaiter. “Since they are open at the bottom, they are more breathable, yet it is important to put a filter,” she says.
Whatever you pick, make sure your nose and mouth are covered with it. “The mask has to snuggly fit the oxygen tubing if a patient wants portable supplemental oxygen,” says Dr. Schachter. “In this situation, limiting yourself to go out and do some activities is an essential minimum.”
Make It Quick
Now is not the time to sit in the shop when you’re dreaming about what to do for dinner. Put on your mask, get what you need, then get out (then sanitize your hands right after, so shower with soap and water when you get home) if you have to go to a grocery store or pharmacy. “If the cloth mask is worn for a long period of time, it will lead to an accumulation of sweat, mucus, and secretions,” says Dr. Elliott.
Clean your reusable mask when you get home. “Washing and drying masks at the maximum heat setting for each use is very necessary so that they do not become a source of infection, particularly for patients with asthma or COPD,” she says.
Consider other benefits
Although it may be difficult for those with asthma or COPD to wear a mask, Dr. Schachter claims several advantages outside coronavirus-related ones. It helps to guard against adverse effects of pollutants such as dust and mold as well as pollen in warm weather. It serves as a buffer for warm exhaled air in the winter, avoiding cold, dry air that can induce bronchospasm, he says.
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Louie is the father behind the travel blog Browseeverywhere.com. He has a background in photography, E-commerce, and writing product reviews online at ConsumerReviews24. Traveling full time with his family was his ultimate past-time. If he’s not typing at his laptop, you can probably find him watching movies.