As a measure of precaution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, medics recommended wearing of face coverings in public settings. However, new studies reveal that wearing masks for too long could lead to other health conditions. Firstly, face masks make breathing more difficult since there is little or no circulation of air in the mask and this causes people to breath in the exhaled carbon dioxide. Breathing in excessive carbon dioxide is dangerous for the body. Some people with pre-existing respiratory illnesses may face health issues with prolonged use of tight-fitting masks, such as respirators.
For people with an illness like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which causes a decreased air flow, face masks are in fact intolerable to wear as they worsen their breathlessness.
People are advised to wear cloth masks and leave the surgical masks and N-95 respirators to healthcare workers. However, wearing a medical or surgical mask for many hours as doctors and nurses on the pandemic frontlines must, comes with risks of its own. Along with other commonly used medical devices, medical masks are known to cause pressure ulcers, which can lead to pain and infection.
For the cloth face coverings, they should not be placed on young children under two years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Doctors have pointed out that face masks are not necessary in every setting. They do not recommend wearing face coverings while driving, especially if you’re alone in the car and also in the house.
Experts have suggested that masks should be worn in crowded places where maintaining social distancing may be difficult.
By Ivy Wanjiku