There’s a lot of information circulating about COVID-19, so it’s important to know what’s true and what’s not. That’s why we are uncovering a few of the myths that are widely spread regarding face masks and COVID-19.
Myth: Wearing a mask for an extended period of time can cause CO2 poisoning.
Fact: The prolonged use of masks can be uncomfortable, however, it does not lead to CO2 intoxication nor oxygen deficiency. For many years, health care providers have worn masks for extended periods of time with no adverse health reactions. The CDC recommends wearing cloth masks while in public and this option is very breathable. There is no risk of hypoxia, which is lower oxygen levels, in healthy adults. Carbon dioxide will freely diffuse through your mask as you breathe. If you feel uncomfortable in your mask, try to limit your talking and breathe through your nose. That will reduce the humidity level in your mask.
Myth: Cloth masks increase your risk of infection.
Fact: Wearing a face mask greatly reduces the spread of infectious droplets from entering your mouth or nose when you’re around individuals who may be sick, but it doesn’t prevent all microbes from entering your body. This would ultimately weaken your immune system. There is no evidence of masks leading to fungal or bacterial infections of any kind.
Do not reuse a disposable mask and change it as soon as it gets damp. If you are wearing a homemade mask, try washing your mask regularly. You can launder masks in washing machines as long as they are able to retain their shape. To hand-wash, knead your face covering for several minutes in hot water using detergent or soap, then rinse with fresh water and hang to air-dry.
Washing your hands before and after touching your mask, as well as washing cloth masks daily are great ways to keep your mask clean and functional.
Myth: Face coverings don’t actually slow the spread of COVID-19.
Fact: Cloth masks reduce the number of respiratory droplets a person releases into the air when talking, sneezing, or coughing. The overall number of droplets in the air is reduced when more people wear masks and this reduces the risk of being exposed to COVID-19.
Wearing a mask is only one step in slowing the spread of COVID-19. In addition to wearing a mask, everyone should continue to practice recommended behaviors such as:
- Keep your physical distance: Six feet or about two arms’ lengths apart from other people.
- Limit in-person meetings.
- Wash your hands with soap often.
- Stay home if you do not feel well.
- Get a test if you have COVID -19 symptoms. Call your local health care provider to schedule a test.
- Self-isolate if you have been around someone who is sick or tested positive.
Understanding Coronavirus and how it is being handled is crucial in avoiding the spread of the virus. For more information regarding COVID-19, visit the CDC website, or reach out to your provider with any questions you may have.