Coronavirus update: Current evidence, from observational studies to systematic reviews and epidemiologic modeling, supports the use of masks by the public, especially surgical masks, on mitigating COVID-19 transmission and deaths. (Reuters image)
Coronavirus update: Wearing mask and breathing through it won’t have any impact on the lungs, a group of researchers has claimed. While people may feel unforgettable wearing masks, researchers found out that masks do not limit the flow of oxygen to the lungs, even in people with severe lung diseases. Researchers have said that discomfort associated with mask use should not lead to unsubstantiated safety concerns and asserted that universal mask use needs to be vigorously enforced, as per a Reuters report.
A team of researchers at the hospital and Miami Miller School of Medicine in the US conducted a study to ascertain the impact of wearing surgical masks on gas exchange. Gas exchange is the process by which the body adds oxygen to the blood while removing carbon dioxide – in 15 healthy physicians and 15 military veterans with severely impaired lungs via a quick-paced six-minute walk on a flat, hard surface. Oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood were measured before and after the walking test. Neither the healthy doctors nor the patients with diseased lungs showed any major changes in gas exchange measurements after the walking test or up to 30 minutes later, the study says.
The discomfort felt with surgical mask use has been ascribed to neurological reactions — increased afferent impulses from the highly thermosensitive area of the face covered by the mask or from the increased temperature of the inspired air or associated psychological phenomena such as anxiety, claustrophobia, or affective responses to the perceived difficulty in breathing, the study says.
Current evidence, from observational studies to systematic reviews and epidemiologic modeling, supports the use of masks by the public, especially surgical masks, on mitigating COVID-19 transmission and deaths. However, public mask use has been heavily politicized with inconsistent recommendations by authorities leading to divided public opinion. Despite evidence to the contrary, an online UK/US survey found that only 29.7-37.8 percent of participants thought that wearing a surgical mask was “highly effective” in protecting them from acquiring COVID-19, the study says.
Researchers said that it is important to inform the public that the discomfort associated with mask use should not lead to unsubstantiated safety concerns as this may attenuate the application of a practice proven to improve public health. As growing evidence indicates that asymptomatic individuals can fuel the spread of COVID-19,uni versal mask use needs to be vigorously enforced in community settings, particularly now that we are facing a pandemic with minimal proven therapeutic interventions, as per the study.