As masks and respirators affect the immune system and oxygen levels in the blood

Studies have shown that wearing masks is one of the most effective methods to slow the spread of the coronavirus, says CNBC.

Как маски и респираторы влияют на иммунитет и уровень кислорода в крови

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However, the myths of the masks are flooding social networks: people are worried that wearing masks will decrease the level of oxygen or carbon dioxide poisoning. Others fear that they will develop a bacterial infection due to sweating or wet masks will decrease the resistance of the immune system.

Medical personnel tried to dispel these misconceptions in social networks. A doctor from South Carolina challenged the idea that “the oxygen level drops dramatically when wearing a mask.” Dr. Megan Hall checked his oxygen saturation and heart rate using the pulse oximeter in the four situations for 5 minutes at a time: no mask, surgical mask, with mask-respirator N95, with N95 and surgical mask.

“In any scenario, no significant changes in oxygen saturation (or heart rate). Although for some it may be uncomfortable, you can still breathe,” she shared in Facebook.

Exposing the myths

The wearing of masks remains a safe and effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19. Masks work by filtering and suppression of air particles.

If someone is infected but has no symptoms during the respiratory disease-causing particles from mouth, nose and the back of the throat emerge and spread within approximately 6 feet (1.8 meters). The mask prevents the free flow of some particles and pushes some air down, not forward.

“Normal, healthy people can do pretty energetic stuff, wearing these masks, we are talking about in the context of prevention COVID, says Dr. William Shaffner, Professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and medical Director of the National Foundation for infectious diseases. — If they were harmful, they would not recommended that CDC, state or local health departments”.

Dr. Liam Sullivan, an infectious disease specialist at Spectrum Health in Grand rapids, Michigan, said that if the mask was dangerous, there would be more cases of nurses and doctors in the operating room.

“I don’t see that they fall dead due to lack of oxygen or too much carbon dioxide,” said he.

Kirsten Koehler, associate Professor of environmental health at the School of public health Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, agreed with him.

“Scientific studies show that there are no really important changes in the levels of CO2 or oxygen levels, even wearing surgical masks. But cloth masks better absorb the gases she said. — I don’t even care. It is more likely that people feel hot when they wear a mask, so they can just begin to feel overheated”.

Shaffner suspects that people are worried about wearing masks, because breathing hard.

“If they correctly wear masks, it is true that to breathe a little harder. But this simply means that the mask acts as a filter, — explained Shaffner. — If you need to inhale and exhale from the filter, it will require a little more work”.

Some say they can’t wear a mask due to asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, although experts suspect that many with compromised lung function, on the contrary, more likely to wear masks.

“The vast majority of people with a true disease of the lungs will wear a mask because they know that if they are exposed to this virus, they have a very high risk of serious complications, Sullivan said. — Sometimes, when they are masked can be a little difficult (to breathe)”.

Although the wearing of masks in warm weather can lead to the fact that the mask becomes wet from sweat, it should not cause bacterial infections.

“There is no evidence of said Shaffner. — In the hot humid air of summer, the mask can be wet and nasty. If you have a mask, you would wash it. If you wear a surgical mask, you must use the new”.

Company Koehler recommends to put a damp cloth masks in paper bags to dry, and wash them every day before use or put a fresh disposable mask.

As to whether the mask can compromise the immune system, Shaffner said, “This is fiction”.

Sullivan said that the immune system works by immune memory, which occurs when the body encounters a bacteria or virus and respond to them. But masks do not interfere with this process.

“I can pretty much guarantee you that wearing a mask intermittently during the day or even all day will not weaken your immune system,” he said.

The real reason why many people don’t want to wear masks

The most common reason why people don’t want to wear a mask psychological. And experts understand it. The mask uncomfortable.

“It may be uncomfortable, I won’t deny it,” said Sullivan.

Koehler said that is why experts recommend social distancing and washing hands first.

“We put the masks in the list of tools that are called personal protective equipment, and mask the last on the list. All because of the mask, as I think most of us now recognize, is really uncomfortable,” she says.

And people in Western countries are just not used to wear them.

“This is clearly not a social norm,” said Shaffner.

It has also become a political issue, making some people less inclined to wear them. But experts stress that the virus policy is concerned.

“Coronavirus with joy infects everyone,” said Shaffner.

Sullivan agrees.

“The virus is not worried about the cultural wars and doesn’t care about your freedom, he said. — Wear a mask — it means to be human, to care about our fellow man and respect all people.”

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