Viral transmission occurs by the respiratory route from person-to-person contact. Unless contained by definitive measures like quarantines and hygienic practices, the virus can spread fast and may result in a pandemic. During pandemics, given the sudden increased demand, it is possible to face shortages in anti-viral drugs or experience unforeseen delays in their delivery. In such cases, it may help to implement non-pharmaceutical interventions such as washing your hands frequently, using sanitizers, and wearing personal protection equipment like respiratory face masks.
Types of respiratory face masks
Surgical masks and N95 respirator masks are the ones that are most commonly used by medical personnel, patients, and the general public. N95 respirator masks are more effective than surgical masks. Only a few companies in the world manufacture these masks, and they are, therefore, in limited supply as compared to the demand for them. Due to this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that only medical first responders and healthcare workers should use these face masks. Surgical masks can serve as adequate protection for everyone else.
Respiratory face masks can help control viral transmissions
According to a research study that Medscape, LLC, conducted on 286 adults that were in contact with children with respiratory illnesses, wearing a face mask is effective to an extent in reducing viral transmission. Here’s how respiratory face masks can control the transmission of viruses:
They offer filtration efficiency
Their filtration efficiency can keep out viruses and microbial particles like mold, tuberculosis, anthracnose, and COVID-19. Respiratory face masks that are of melt-blown cloth are especially good about filtering infectious drops. The material has minute gaps of around 0.5~1μm, and most viral drops have diameters up to 12μm. That makes it excellent as a face mask material. Additionally, if the melt-blown cloth has undergone a static electret treatment, it displays an electrostatic adsorption effect. So, it can also filter dust, fumes, harmful gases, and other dangerous aerosols, and ensure breathing ease.
They prevent contact with bodily fluids
Respiratory face masks prevent the transfer of body fluids from infected persons. They also protect healthy people from being affected after unavoidable contact with patients. Some respiratory face masks are impermeable to blood and can keep out surface moisture.
They can fit all facial shapes
The design of the respiratory face masks makes it easy to adapt to all facial shapes. It is essential to put on the mask correctly and make sure that it fits well, especially at the sides. There should be no gaps, so there will be no chance of any viral transmission.
Respiratory facial masks can be single-use or have multiple uses
Surgical masks and N95 respirators cannot be shared or reused. You must discard and replace them every two or four hours. However, it is not advisable to keep wearing a mask at a stretch for eight hours or more. You might experience breathing difficulties as a result.
Some respiratory face masks are reusable, but you will need to wash them in hot water after every single use and disinfect them as well.
Wearing a respirator face mask will be more effective in controlling viral transmission if you accompany it with some basic hygienic practices. Wash your hands at frequent intervals, make a practice of spraying an alcohol-based sanitizer on the things that you regularly come in contact with, and try to avoid touching your face or the face mask that you are wearing.
Furthermore, while a respiratory face mask can keep you from infecting people when you are sick, it might be a better idea to stay at home until you recover. Keep tissues at hand, cough or sneeze in them, and then discard them in the waste bin. And don’t forget to wash your hands afterward. It is important to note that wearing a medical face mask will not by itself bring a viral pandemic under control. It has to be accompanied by other useful methods like quarantining sick people, putting them on the right medication, and asking everyone else to take the proper hygienic precautions and stay away as much as is possible from patients. You should also work on strengthening your immune system with a balanced, vitamin-rich diet and regular exercise.
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