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

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

In keeping with the Centers for Disease Management and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, vaccine availability was restricted that year because the virus wasn’t recognized until manufacturers had already began producing the annual vaccine.

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

However with the recent spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, persons are once more trying to surgical face masks as a way of protecting themselves and others from the virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

But does wearing a face masks really forestall the spread of viruses, such because the flu or SARS-CoV-2?

We’ll look at recommendations from experts, unpack the research on which masks are simplest, and clarify the best way to use masks properly.

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

“CDC doesn’t advocate that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, together with COVID-19. It’s best to only wear a masks if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask must be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms.”

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

The CDC also recommendsTrusted Source patients 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 those around you from contracting your illness.

Research show masks may help in some cases

For a few years, scientists weren’t sure whether wearing a mask was efficient at preventing the spread of viruses. Nevertheless, recent studies suggest they can help.

One 2013 examineTrusted Supply checked out how masks could help folks with the seasonal flu limit spreading it when they exhale small droplets containing the virus. Total, researchers found masks led to a more than threefold reduction in how a lot virus people sprayed into the air.

One other examineTrusted Source, analyzing data from hundreds of Japanese schoolchildren, found that “vaccination and wearing a mask reduced the chance of creating seasonal influenza.”

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

In other words, common handwashing remains an essential instrument in preventing the spread of viruses.

Completely different types of masks

For those who’re considering wearing a mask to protect yourself towards infections, there are 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 to be used as medical devices. Doctors, dentists, and nurses often wear them while treating patients.

These masks forestall massive droplets of bodily fluids which will contain viruses or other germs from escaping via the nostril and mouth. They also protect in opposition to splashes and sprays from different people, similar to these from sneezes and coughs.

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

For that goal, specialists advocate particular masks with fine mesh that may capture very small organisms. These additionally need to 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, additionally called N95 respirator masks, are designed to protect the wearer from small particles in the air, like viruses. They’re licensed by the CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The name comes from the truth that they will filter ninety five percentTrusted Source of airborne particles, in line with the CDC. N95 masks are also usually used when painting or dealing with potentially poisonous materials.

Respirators are selected to fit your face. They must type an ideal seal so no gaps allow airborne viruses in. Healthcare workers use them to protect against airborne infectious diseases, resembling tuberculosis and anthrax.

Not like regular face masks, respirators protect towards each massive and small particles.

Overall, respirators are considered much more effective at stopping the flu virus than regular face masks.

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