Your face mask is working double duty to protect everyone: It keeps you from spreading your germs and can stop other germs from getting into you. However, if used thoughtlessly, the masks can also cause unwanted side effects. Here’s what they are—and how to prevent them.
1. They Can Mess With Your Sight.
“Wearing a face mask makes the exhaled air go into the eyes,” wrote Antonio I. Lazzarino, Medical Doctor and Epidemiologist, of the University College London, in a letter to the journal BMJ about the side effects of face masks. “This generates an uncomfortable feeling and an impulse to touch your eyes. If your hands are contaminated, you are infecting yourself.” Resist the temptation to touch your face, and wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds after contact with substances like door handles, elevator buttons, packages or anything else where germs thrive.
2. They Can Restrict Your Airflow.
“Face masks make breathing more difficult,” points out Lazzarino in his letter. “For people with COPD”—that’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which causes a decreased air flow—”face masks are in fact intolerable to wear as they worsen their breathlessness. Moreover, a fraction of carbon dioxide previously exhaled is inhaled at each respiratory cycle. Those two phenomena increase breathing frequency and deepness, and hence they increase the amount of inhaled and exhaled air.” “This may worsen the burden of COVID-19 if infected people wearing masks spread more contaminated air,” he continues. “This may also worsen the clinical condition of infected people if the enhanced breathing pushes the viral load down into their lungs.”