Does Wearing a Masks 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 the best way to reduce the spread of the virus.

In response to the Centers for Disease Management and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Supply, vaccine availability was limited that year because the virus wasn’t identified until producers had already started producing the annual vaccine.

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

However with the latest spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, persons are once more looking 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 mask really prevent the spread of viruses, such because the flu or SARS-CoV-2?

We’ll look at recommendations from experts, unpack the analysis on which masks are handiest, and explain the right way to use masks properly.

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

“CDC doesn’t recommend that people who find themselves 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 ought to be utilized by individuals who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms.”

The CDCTrusted Supply recommends healthcare workers wear face masks when working with sufferers who have the flu.

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

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

Studies show masks may assist in some cases

For many years, scientists weren’t certain whether or not wearing a masks was efficient at stopping the spread of viruses. Nevertheless, latest studies recommend they’ll help.

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

Another researchTrusted Source, analyzing data from 1000’s of Japanese schoolchildren, discovered that “vaccination and wearing a mask reduced the probability of developing seasonal influenza.”

Importantly, researchers also discoveredTrusted Supply that flu rates were decrease when masks have been 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

In the event you’re considering wearing a mask to protect your self against 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 Meals and Drug Administration for use as medical devices. Doctors, dentists, and nurses typically wear them while treating patients.

These masks prevent massive droplets of bodily fluids which will comprise viruses or other germs from escaping via the nostril and mouth. Additionally they protect against splashes and sprays from other folks, equivalent to those from sneezes and coughs.

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

For that function, experts advocate particular masks with fine mesh that may seize very small organisms. These additionally need to be worn correctly 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, also called N95 respirator masks, are designed to protect the wearer from small particles within 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 can filter ninety five %Trusted Source of airborne particles, in keeping with the CDC. N95 masks are also typically used when painting or handling potentially toxic materials.

Respirators are selected to fit your face. They need to type a perfect seal so no gaps allow airborne viruses in. Healthcare workers use them to protect towards airborne infectious ailments, reminiscent of tuberculosis and anthrax.

In contrast to common face masks, respirators protect towards both giant and small particles.

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

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