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How Well Do Face Masks Work Against Viruses?

Prevention has always been a simple way to curb sickness often caused by bacteria and viruses. Frequent hand washing, staying away from crowds, and wearing face masks are proven to help greatly in avoiding respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, flu, tuberculosis, and pneumonia.

There are three kinds of face masks you can use to protect yourself from viruses: cloth covers, respirators or N95 masks and surgical or medical masks. They all function as a proven virus deterrent by keeping respiratory droplets from dispersing. 

Cloth Masks: Better Than Nothing

The filtration ability of cloth masks varies depending on several factors, including the type of material, number of layers, and water resistance. Although these coverings don’t initially offer a high level of filtration efficiency compared to medical-grade masks, they still do a decent job of keeping respiratory droplets from being expelled into the air. This prevents further virus transmission, which is better than not wearing a mask at all.

Respirators: Filter 95 Percent of Airborne Particles

Respirators or N95 masks got their name because they’re certified to filter 95% of large and small airborne particles. It’s important to note that medical-grade masks don’t have a breathing valve because it does not keep the air droplets in or out. 

N95s are considered to have a high-efficiency rate for protection but are a bit excessive for everyday use. These masks are recommended for healthcare workers’ to shield themselves against diseases they treat.

Medical Masks: Suggested Everyday Mask for Virus Protection

Medical or surgical masks are single-use protective coverings certified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as medical devices. These masks have a hydrophobic outer layer and an absorbent inner layer. The outer layer prevents splashes and sprays from other people from getting into your nose or mouth, while the inner side keeps your respiratory droplets from spreading. Surgical masks are regarded as the most suitable mask for everyday use because of their effectiveness and availability.

A Matter of Fact

Regardless of the ongoing pandemic, using face masks limit infections by containing viruses. Several studies that were done in 2013, 2015, and 2017 prove that this simple measure, combined with other preventative habits like hand washing and vaccination, helps a lot as a source control method. Experts and authorities have also stood by its importance, enforcing a mask mandate in Ohio and other states whenever the time for it is needed, especially during an outbreak.

Consult Your Doctor

If you experience flu-like symptoms after going out or have difficulty breathing while wearing a mask, contact your primary care provider for a checkup, or get in touch with the Wood County Hospital for a telehealth consultation.