Does Wearing a Mask Protect You from the Flu and Different Viruses?

When the United States experienced an outbreak of the swine flu in 2009, everyone was speaking about the best way to reduce the spread of the virus.

According to the Centers for Illness Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Supply, vaccine availability was limited that yr because the virus wasn’t recognized till producers had already began producing the annual vaccine.

So, individuals started doing something most of us hadn’t really seen before to stop transmission: wearing surgical face masks.

But with the recent spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, individuals are again seeking to surgical face masks as a way of protecting themselves and others from the virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

However does wearing a face masks really stop the spread of viruses, such as the flu or SARS-CoV-2?

We’ll take a look at recommendations from specialists, unpack the research on which masks are only, and clarify how one can use masks properly.

In the case of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the CDCTrusted Source notes that:

“CDC does not advocate that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. It’s best to only wear a masks if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask must be utilized by individuals who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms.”

The CDCTrusted Source recommends healthcare workers wear face masks when working with sufferers who’ve the flu.

The CDC additionally recommendsTrusted Source sufferers who show signs of respiratory infections be given masks while they’re in healthcare settings till they are often isolated.

When you’re sick and must be around others, properly wearing a mask can protect these round you from contracting your illness.

Studies show masks may assist in some cases

For many years, scientists weren’t positive whether or not wearing a masks was effective at preventing the spread of viruses. Nevertheless, latest studies suggest they will help.

One 2013 examineTrusted Supply looked at how masks could assist individuals with the seasonal flu restrict spreading it after they exhale small droplets containing the virus. Overall, researchers discovered masks led to a more than threefold reduction in how much virus individuals sprayed into the air.

Another studyTrusted Supply, analyzing data from hundreds of Japanese schoolchildren, discovered that “vaccination and wearing a mask reduced the likelihood of creating seasonal influenza.”

Importantly, researchers additionally foundTrusted Source that flu rates have been lower when masks had been paired with proper hand hygiene.

In different words, common handwashing stays an essential tool in preventing the spread of viruses.

Completely different types of masks

In case you’re considering wearing a mask to protect yourself in opposition to infections, there are two types you must know about.

Surgical face masks

Surgical face masks are pretty loose-fitting, disposable masks approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as medical devices. Doctors, dentists, and nurses often wear them while treating patients.

These masks prevent massive droplets of bodily fluids that may contain viruses or different germs from escaping through the nostril and mouth. In addition they protect in opposition to splashes and sprays from different folks, resembling those from sneezes and coughs.

But the average masks you should buy from an area drugstore aren’t enough to filter out viruses.

For that purpose, specialists recommend special masks with fine mesh that can capture very small organisms. These additionally should be worn accurately for them to work.

Masks worn over the face are also unable to protect you from getting airborne virus particles, from a cough or sneeze, into your eyes.

Buy surgical face masks from Amazon or Walmart.


Respirators, also called N95 respirator masks, are designed to protect the wearer from small particles within the air, like viruses. They’re certified by the CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The name comes from the truth that they’ll filter ninety five %Trusted Source of airborne particles, in response to the CDC. N95 masks are additionally usually used when painting or handling potentially toxic materials.

Respirators are chosen to fit your face. They must form an ideal seal so no gaps permit airborne viruses in. Healthcare workers use them to protect against airborne infectious ailments, corresponding to tuberculosis and anthrax.

Unlike regular face masks, respirators protect against both massive and small particles.

General, respirators are considered a lot more efficient at preventing the flu virus than common face masks.

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