COPD, which refers to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a prevalent respiratory illness worldwide. With more than three million deaths in 2019, it is considered the third-highest cause of mortality.
Unfortunately, COPD and other respiratory conditions like asthma and cystic fibrosis don't get the attention they need, at least not concerning their prevalence and severity in afflicting patients.
While medical professionals are exploring quite a few treatment options, some new ideas are emerging due to the alarming number of people contracting these respiratory diseases.
Solutions for respiratory conditions include oxygen therapy, surgery, and stress management. Advancements in radiology and the use of X-rays are also playing a crucial role. Radiology, particularly X-ray imaging, is essential in diagnosing and monitoring respiratory diseases.
However, one prevention measure is slowly gaining traction due to its effectiveness in preventing the spread of respiratory infections - wearing a face mask.
In this article, we will go over some tips for wearing a face mask, how to choose the right face protection, and the considerations you need to take when wearing a mask with a respiratory condition.
Tips for Wearing a Face Mask
Respiratory patients with COPD, asthma, and pulmonary and cystic fibrosis, are at a higher risk of contracting respiratory infections due to weakened lung functions.
A face mask can significantly reduce the risk of further complications or worsening the underlying respiratory condition. Fortunately, wearing a face mask is simple.
However, wearing it “properly” is a different story and can make all the difference in making your experience more comfortable and more effective at keeping you safe.
Here are some of the best suggestions for the proper wearing of a face mask to reduce respiratory virus transmission:
Practice at home - sometimes, getting comfortable wearing a mask takes a while, and you might need time to adjust to the routine. But practice makes perfect.
It will be helpful to wear a mask at home just for practice. It would be best if you experienced the sensation of wearing a mouth and nose cover in a comfortable environment.
Practicing at home also allows you to remove the face cover mask whenever you want to without the risk of outside pollutants, such as when it becomes uncomfortable.
Avoid heat and humidity - It's more difficult to breathe through a mask when it gets hot or humid outside. Some face masks can trap heat, affecting our body’s ability to regulate temperature.
Temperature and humidity can affect people with respiratory conditions like COPD and enhance the severity of the symptoms, such as chest tightness, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
If you do have to go out, check the weather forecasts. You'll be better off going on a colder day or early in the morning. Choosing a mask with breathable material can also help.
Exercise indoors - regular exercise can improve your breathing and reduce the symptoms of respiratory ailments. Fortunately, exercising doesn't require exposing yourself to pollutants and other airborne threats.
While it’s still recommended that you wear a mask indoors, especially if you want to prevent respiratory virus transmission, you’re putting yourself at lower risk if you decide to remove it.
Reduce outside trips - if you can, avoid going outside. If you have to, it's best to make those trips as quickly as possible and (of course) wear a face mask, and wash or replace it when you get home.
Limiting your exposure to populated areas like the city will make you safer and lower the chances of contracting viruses and bacteria that may worsen your respiratory condition.
Planning your outdoor trips can make things more efficient. For instance, prepare a shopping list when you have to go to the grocery store.
Choose a comfortable face mask - the best tip for wearing a face mask is to pick a comfortable one. Wearing a face mask can be hard to get used to, so it helps to have one you don’t realize is even there.
Get a mask that fits your face snugly. It's also a good idea to choose a mask with breathable material, as it’s more breathable and quick-drying, preventing airborne threats from sticking to it.
How Respiratory Conditions Affect Mask-Wearing
Respiratory ailments can make everyday activities like breathing and wearing a mask challenging for affected individuals. The severity of these conditions can vary greatly and have a substantial impact on an individual's overall quality of life.
One of the most common respiratory conditions is COPD. Imagine breathing through a straw while wearing a mask - that’s what it’s like for someone with COPD. This condition is generally caused by long-term exposure to cigarette smoke, air pollution, and chemical fumes.
Another common respiratory condition is asthma, which affects about one in 13 people. For someone with asthma, wearing a mask can make breathing harder, amplifying their symptoms.
Lung scarring caused by pulmonary fibrosis can make it challenging for oxygen to move from the lungs to the bloodstream, causing breathing difficulties. Low blood oxygen levels can result in hypoxia, which leads to impaired breathing.
Cystic fibrosis affects mucus production in the lungs. This respiratory condition can cause the build-up of thick, sticky mucus in the lungs, affecting breathing and increasing the risk of infections.
While face masks can lower the risk of infection and further exacerbate the symptoms of many respiratory ailments, wearing one may restrict airflow and make it more difficult to breathe.
The irony is that wearing a face mask to prevent respiratory complications can introduce exertion and excessive sweating around the mouth, which can reduce the efficacy of the mask and make you susceptible to infection.
This is where choosing the right mouth and nose covering and wearing them properly comes into play. A mask only works if it fits.
Best Fit for a Face Mask
Not all masks are created equal. Some will do a better job at keeping you safe than others.
Considering your facial features, a face mask should fit comfortably around your face. A protective cover that fits appropriately limits the possibility of transmitting respiratory ailments from and to other people.
Start by trying different-sized masks and choose one with a tight but not restrictive fit. It also needs to sit closely on the sides of your face with no gaps.
Another aspect of a good-fitting face mask is the seal. A tight seal can help prevent respiratory viruses from escaping and entering your mask. This is essential when you go out in public.
A good mask also offers multiple layers of protection, such as a filtration layer. Think of a castle with several walls. More layers mean viruses and bacteria will have more difficulty reaching the valuable treasure inside - you.
Finally, a face mask with the best fit is breathable and comfortable. Avoid face masks that are made with material such as vinyl, as they can make breathing more difficult.
Consider checking out airpophealth.com if you or a loved one is dealing with a respiratory condition and in need of a high-quality face mask.
Our masks are designed with optimal ergonomic fit, electrostatically charged filter layers for superior filtration, and canopied designs to make breathing effortless.
Even kids can enjoy the comfort and breathability of their specifically designed masks. Don't compromise on performance or comfort.