In a time when the world witnessed a pandemic of H1N1 or swine flu during 2009, everyone around started discussing on what ways we can use for the reduction of the swift spreading of viral diseases.
According to a trusted source, the CDC (which stands for Center for Disease Control and Prevention), the only limited vaccine was available that year as the virus was not completely identified until the creators started the production of the annual vaccine. Therefore, people did a very rare thing, that is they started wearing face masks to stop the transmission of the virus.
So with the current issue of the spread of coronavirus, the same trend is repeating its way as again people have started using face masks to protect themselves and those around them and prevent coronavirus.
So a question arises here that is a mask really useful for the prevention against the viruses, like the flu virus or even COVID-19.
Here we will be looking at what experts and the researches say on the efficiency of masks and also look at the proper way for using masks.
For the recent case of coronavirus, CDC says that:
It is not recommended that the person who is wearing a facemask for the protection against coronavirus or respiratory diseases is safe. One should only be wearing a mask if it is recommended by a healthcare professional. Ideally, it should be worn by a person who has coronavirus or is showing symptoms of the same.
It is also recommended for healthcare professionals to wear a mask when they are working with infected or suspected patients.
It is also recommended by the CDC to give masks to those patients who are showing symptoms of infection in the respiratory system while they are in any healthcare facility until the time they can be isolated.
If a person is sick and cannot be properly isolated, then using a mask can help in protecting those around them from the transmission of the virus.
Studies have shown that using masks can aid sometimes. Earlier, for a long time, doctors were not sure regarding the usage of masks in stopping the transmission of viruses. But, recent studies have suggested that they can be helpful.
A study in 2013 studied the role of masks in the limitation of the seasonal flu virus when it is exhaled by them in the form of small droplets. Overall, the scientists found that using masks helped in reducing the amount of virus spreading in the environment around the infected by a significant amount of threefold reduction.
Another study, analyzed the data from various schoolchildren of Japan founded that proper vaccination and a mask reduce the chances of seasonal flu.
Also, in an important study, it was discovered that rates of flu were reduced when a mask was used along with taking care of hand hygiene.
So, it could be well concluded that regular washing of hands with soap and water retains its top spot for the prevention against the viruses.
Types of available masks:
If you too are thinking about buying a mask for protection against the virus, then there are two types of masks you should be aware of:
These are loose fitted and disposable masks which are approved by the medical associations for their usage as medical equipment. Hence, you would find doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals wearing them in healthcare facilities.
These have the ability to stop the transmission of huge droplets of fluids from a body that has the potential to carry germs or viruses which can escape through the mouth and nose. They also help in protection against sprays and splashes from those around us, like that from coughs and sneezes. But the usual mask which you buy from the local pharmacy is not enough for filtering out the virus threats.
Experts recommend the use of special masks that have fine mesh which is capable of capturing even very minute organisms, but these should be worn properly for the masks to work correctly. Also, it should be noted that masks which are worn on the face are unable to protect us from catching airborne virus organisms, from sneeze and cough, from getting into the eyes.
These are also known as N95 masks which are designed for protecting the user from even very minute particles present in the air and they are certified by various health safety institutions. Their name, N95, according to the CDC, comes from their ability to filter out 95 percent of the airborne particles. These masks are also used while handling or painting toxic or potentially toxic components.
These respirators should be selected as per your face size so that they form a complete seal and allow no air gaps for the passing of airborne viruses. These are used by the healthcare professionals for their protection against the airborne particles which may have infectious agents, like the pathogens of anthrax and tuberculosis.
Respirators, unlike the normal face masks, protect the user against both small and large particles. Overall, they should be considered as much more efficient in the prevention of the flu virus as compared to the normal face mask.
But, still, it has been found by many studies that both masks have their own benefits.
Some points to keep in mind while using a mask:
While it has been proven that using face masks can aid in the reduction of chances for flu and other viruses, they are only effective when they are used frequently and correctly.
Here are some points to keep in mind:
- Always wear a mask when you are in contact of 6 feet around someone sick.
- The strings should be positioned to place the mask on the mouth, chin and nose and try your best to not touch it again until and unless you are removing it.
- Always remember to put on a mask when you have the flu and are going near someone.
- If you are not feeling well and are going to visit a doctor, then make sure to wear a mask for the safety of people around you in the reception or waiting area.
- It would be a wise decision to wear a mask in crowded areas, especially in these situations.
- Straight away put a used mask into the dustbin and do not use a used mask again and then wash your hands.
As we all know that prevention is the best way for keeping yourselves safe during times of this highly infectious virus.
A mask may provide additional protection against catching the virus. However, it should be noted that face masks should be used in conditions mentioned above for stopping the growth of this coronavirus, COVID-19, for the protection of yourself and ones around you.
Also face masks do not have any known risks for their use, except their cost.
While they may instill a sense of confidence, it is important to keep other preventive methods in mind like washing your hands regularly with soap and water.