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

When the United States skilled an outbreak of the swine flu in 2009, everyone was speaking about find out how to reduce the spread of the virus.

In keeping with the Centers for Illness Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Supply, vaccine availability was restricted that 12 months because the virus wasn’t identified until producers had already started producing the annual vaccine.

So, folks started doing something most of us hadn’t really seen earlier than to cease transmission: wearing surgical face masks.

However with the latest spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, people are again looking to surgical face masks as a way of protecting themselves and others from the virus, which causes the illness COVID-19.

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

We’ll have a look at suggestions from experts, unpack the analysis on which masks are best, and clarify how one can use masks properly.

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

“CDC does not advocate that people who find themselves well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, together with COVID-19. You should only wear a masks if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask ought to be used by people 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 Supply patients who show signs of respiratory infections be given masks while they’re in healthcare settings until they are often isolated.

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

Studies show masks could help in some cases

For a few years, scientists weren’t certain whether or not wearing a masks was efficient at preventing the spread of viruses. Nonetheless, current research suggest they can help.

One 2013 studyTrusted Supply checked out how masks may assist folks with the seasonal flu restrict spreading it when they exhale small droplets containing the virus. Total, researchers discovered masks led to a more than threefold reduction in how a lot virus people sprayed into the air.

One other studyTrusted Supply, analyzing data from thousands of Japanese schoolchildren, found that “vaccination and wearing a masks reduced the probability of growing seasonal influenza.”

Importantly, researchers also discoveredTrusted Source that flu rates have been decrease when masks were paired with proper hand hygiene.

In other words, regular handwashing stays an essential device in preventing the spread of viruses.

Totally different types of masks

For those who’re considering wearing a masks to protect yourself towards infections, there are two types it’s best to know about.

Surgical face masks

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

These masks stop massive droplets of bodily fluids that will include viruses or other germs from escaping through the nose and mouth. Additionally they protect in opposition to splashes and sprays from different folks, akin to these from sneezes and coughs.

However the common masks you can buy from a neighborhood drugstore aren’t sufficient to filter out viruses.

For that purpose, specialists suggest particular masks with fine mesh that can seize very small organisms. These additionally must be worn accurately for them to work.

Masks worn over the face are additionally 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, additionally called N95 respirator masks, are designed to protect the wearer from small particles in the air, like viruses. They’re certified by the CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The name comes from the fact that they’ll filter ninety five p.cTrusted Source of airborne particles, in response to the CDC. N95 masks are additionally usually used when painting or handling probably poisonous materials.

Respirators are chosen to fit your face. They have to kind an ideal seal so no gaps enable airborne viruses in. Healthcare workers use them to protect in opposition to airborne infectious diseases, equivalent to tuberculosis and anthrax.

Not like common face masks, respirators protect in opposition to both giant and small particles.

Total, respirators are considered a lot more efficient at stopping the flu virus than regular face masks.

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