Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

How Effective are Face Mask in Preventing Flu?

We all know that swine-flu pandemic of 2009 killed approximately 203,000 people all over the world. It is also known as H1N1 virus. It was a cause of concern for everyone as no one knew as to how to control the spread of virus. The vaccine was not available as the virus wasn’t identified and it was an urgent need to address the issue.

In such a chaos, physicians advised people to wash hands regularly and avoid going to crowded places. People who were diagnosed with flu were instructed to remain at home, in isolation so that the infection doesn’t spread.

As a preventive measure, physicians also advised people to wear surgical face masks to prevent themselves from swine flu virus. The effectiveness of the face mask in order to prevent an individual from H1N1 virus is a debatable topic and the following research shall help in arriving at the conclusion:-

How Effective are Face Mask in Preventing Flu?

Research on Effectiveness of Face Masks in Preventing Flu

There was always a debate on whether face mask is useful or not in prevent an individual from getting infected with the H1N1 virus?

As an outcome of the recent studies, scientists and health care specialists advocate the use of face masks in preventing an individual from getting infected from the flu virus. The data collected from these studies prove that up to 80 percent of people have reduced the risk of getting affected by the flu virus by using a face mask and by washing hands regularly.

Different Kinds of Masks for the Prevention of Flu

The next time whenever you go to a crowded place, do not forget to wear a mask to avoid coming in contact with the flu virus. There are different types of masks available in the market having a designated purpose. Following are the various types of masks that are available in the market for the prevention of flu:-

Facemasks

You might have seen a doctor, nurses, and dentists wearing a facemask while performing surgeries. Those are disposable facemasks cleared by the U.S Food and Drug Administration for use as medical devices. Wearing these masks stop the droplets from getting spread and also prevents the individual from coming in contact with the flu virus present in the air. Since, a lot of surgical companies manufacture it therefore; it is available in several designs in the market.

Facemask once used must be disposed of.

Caution: - Although these masks are effective in preventing an individual from the flu virus however they are not effective in stopping the breathing of tiny, airborne pollutants which can also become the cause of allergic rhinitis that may lead to flu

Respirators

When compared to facemasks, respirators can protect you from flu virus as well as tiny pollutants more efficiently.

The N95 respirator is the most popularly used respirator when compared to other types of respirators. To your surprise, by using this respirator, one can stop at least 95% of the airborne particles and 99.99% flu virus, during respiration. They are certified by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Respirators are used in many workplaces to safeguard workers from coming in contact with hazardous substances like gases, solvents, sprays, and chemicals as well as the flu virus. It is also used by mining workers who are exposed to harmful airborne materials. Respirators masks mitigate the harm these risky constituents can impose.

N95 respirators are not designed for people with facial hair and children. A proper fit cannot be accomplished on them; hence it may not provide complete protection.
Always note the respirator you are using must be sealed correctly preventing airborne viruses from entering.

Recommendations for Using Facemask to Prevent Flu

As per the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention nurses, doctors and the next of kin, who come in close proximity to the patients, especially the ones suffering from flu are advised to wear masks to keep themselves prevented from the viruses.

Points To Keep In Mind While Wearing Mask

Facemasks and respirators do help in reducing the chances of getting infected with flu when they are worn accurately and on a regular basis. Following are some of the points that should be kept in mind while wearing the mask:-

Avoid Gaps between the Mask and your Face

Place mask cautiously to cover nose and mouth so that there are no gaps between the face and mask as these gaps facilitate the entry of flu virus into the human body.

Avoid Touching the Mask

Avoid touching the mask, as much as you can. Whenever you need to touch it, do so with clean hands by washing your hands with warm water and soap or make use of sanitizer, if there is no water source, nearby.

Replace Masks Regularly

Replace masks with the fresh ones as they become wet and dank. Never re-use the mask. It is always a wise idea to dispose it off.

Mask While Meeting a Patient

Wearing a facemask while meet a sick person is important as it effectively prevents you from getting infected with the virus.

Conclusion

Individuals become less susceptible to infection by wearing a facemask. It is not very expensive and is readily available in all the medical stores.

Use of facemasks must be accompanied by washing your hands with luke warm water. Masks are designed to offer two-way protection; it provides a physical fence for healthcare workers and at the same time also prevents the patient from coming in contact with the flu virus. Do remember the adage saying,‘Prevention is better than cure’

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: April 5, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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