Those face masks that everyone has been unquestioningly wearing every time they left their homes, might be doing more than just keeping us safe from possibly contracting the disease COVID-19, as they might be protecting us against other respiratory conditions. As a matter of fact, face masks in association with distancing socially are probably part of the causes for this year’s cold, and flu season, in particular, has been relatively tame. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC recognized that there was an amazing ninety-eight percent reduction in the cold and flu activity for this season. Below are the other respiratory ailments which face masks could guard against, other than the coronavirus.
The flu or influenza puts 140,000 to 810,000 individuals in hospital annually and kills as much as 61,000 as outlined by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, research published in the PLoS Pathogens displayed that face masks restricted transmission, decreasing the spread of smaller particles by as much as three times and bigger influenza droplets by as much as a factor of twenty-five.
In the event that individuals are at home with another person that has the flu, wearing a face mask for influenza could decrease the transmission between sixty to eighty percent, as detailed in a report in Emerging Infectious Diseases. Also, in the report, it stated that less than fifty percent of the healthy individuals reported that they wore masks the majority of the time.
In the region of the Northern Hemisphere, the cold and flu season normally starts in early October and climaxes everywhere between December and February, on rare occasions could last longer sometimes. Receiving the flu shot is one of the best safeguards against influenza, after that, it is washing of hands and wearing of a face mask that might be the next best thing in order to protect oneself.
When compared to the coronavirus, the common cold might not appear to be too menacing, however, it does take a toll on the individual. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximates that adults contract on average two to three colds annually; making this condition the most frequently used reason for missing work. Several cases of the common cold are a result of the coronavirus, which is quite similar to however it is not as severe as SAR-CoV-2, which is the specific coronavirus that leads to COVID-19.
The viruses are transmitted in similar methods, which are through the respiratory droplets, plus they have overlying symptoms, such as runny nose, sneezing, body aches, headaches, and coughing. In the past, medical professionals have recommended coughing and sneezing into one’s bent elbow in order to limit the contamination of others. Wearing face masks could do the same thing. In the end, keeping airborne particles and respiratory droplets to oneself ensure that you are not transmitting the virus to others, anything that could be spread via the throat and nose, a face mask is definitely going to stop it.
Allergens such as pollen and various others travel through the air, at times it appears as if they do this with the sole purpose of exasperating the nasal passages of individuals. Face masks assist in limiting the amount of pollen getting into the nose and resulting in hay fever allergies. Bear in mind, the efficacy of a face mask fluctuates depending on how large the particular allergen is. The nose becomes inflamed from allergic reactions, which opens up the pathway to being more vulnerable to infections.
Face masks could have double uses in this situation, protecting against allergies and pathogens. Several medical professionals have detailed a reduction in seasonal allergy complaints in individuals since the onset of the coronavirus, however, there has been an escalation in indoor allergies. This could be due to individuals spending more time with their pets and not wearing a mask indoors so often. According to a study conducted in 2020 and released in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, 301 nurses that suffered from allergic rhinitis or hay fever, saw their symptoms reduced from forty-three percent to twenty-nine percent when they wore a surgical mask and then dropped to twenty-five percent wearing an N95 mask.
Face masks could also be very effective depending on the type of air pollution, according to a professor of medicine in the Center of Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, William Bennett. Tiny molecules of air pollution which evolve from combustion products have been displayed in epidemiological research to enhance mortality and morbidity.
The wearing of face masks will guard against the pollution from diesel exhaust and soot, though not from gases. In a study that was released in BMJ Occupational and Environmental Medicine, scientists reviewed the effectiveness of wearing face masks in guarding against air pollution in China. The study revealed that specific masks indeed aid in filtering particulate matter out of the air pollution, as always, the quality of the mask is a significant factor.
Smoke regardless of it emits from cigarettes, burning wood, or anything else for that matter, is yet another health hazard. Face masks could filter some of the tiny particles that could be toxic. It is suggested that forest fires are of the largest interest to scientists outside of COVID-19 as it relates to the use of face masks. This is due to the risks wildfires present to the increase in health issues.
Houses and similar structures which fall prey to flames release a plethora of other particles that could be very toxic as well. Face masks will not, however, keep out gases that are noxious such as formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. Even though individuals do not understand what percentage of smoke particles and what percentage is gas, it does not harm us to remove the particles.