We now live in a world where – for the foreseeable future – wearing a facemask is the new normal due to Coronavirus. As countries and states ease restrictions and allow people to return to work and outdoor activities, the need for wearing masks for prolonged periods of time has increased. Obviously, it is IMPORTANT that we all CONTINUE to protect ourselves by wearing a mask. However, there can be some potentially negative effects of wearing a mask for too long, which can be described as “Facemask Fatigue" and is like the effects of hypoxia (or oxygen deficiency).
Scientific American recently published an article titled "New Design Helps N95 Mask Wearers Breathe Easier" which discusses this in detail. An excerpt is below:
"Wearing high-grade filter masks can help protect against the novel coronavirus. But after a few hours, these tight-fitting devices can also make it really hard to breathe. N95 respirators, for example, are famously good at blocking viral particles—but they can also reduce the amount of available oxygen by up to 20 percent. Now some Stanford University researchers are addressing this problem with a portable device that pumps pure O2 directly to the wearer." (READ THE FULL ARTICLE)
- What is “Facemask Fatigue” caused by? According to Stanford researchers, N95 masks are estimated to reduce oxygen intake by anywhere from 5 to 20 percent. It can also be caused by carbon dioxide buildup inside the mask, which causes you to breathe your own carbon dioxide back into your lungs, displacing oxygen.
- Much like hypoxia, that means important organs like your lungs, heart and brain aren’t getting the necessary amount of oxygen to function properly. Your blood cells need oxygen to create the necessary energy to power your body.
- A fact that may surprise you is that the air we breathe contains ONLY around 21% of oxygen, the rest is 78% nitrogen along with pollutants.
- If you need to wear a mask for long periods and experience symptoms of Facemask Fatigue, use of supplemental oxygen like Boost Oxygen can help you feel better by increasing the amount of oxygen you breathe in.
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THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF OXYGEN IN YOUR BODY
When you breathe, your lungs transfer oxygen to your blood. Your blood uses that oxygen to power cells to create energy from the nutrients in our body. This also creates carbon dioxide, which is a waste product of that process. Your blood transfers carbon dioxide back to your lungs, where you breathe out (expel) this waste product. Without proper amounts of oxygen – or an imbalance in your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels - your body can develop hypoxia and hypercapnia which can cause negative effects. People who experience hypoxia and lower oxygen levels are those at higher altitudes (where there is less oxygen), athletes or anyone exerting themselves during a workout or sports, senior citizens, truck drivers, or someone who might be hungover after a night of drinking or partying.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HYPOXIA AND HYPERCAPNIA?
The most obvious symptoms of oxygen deficiency (or hypoxia) are shortness of breath, being lethargic and fatigued, headaches, dizziness, rapid breathing, fast heart rate and coughing. Hypercapnia (or carbon dioxide toxicity) includes shortness of breath, increased heart rate and blood pressure, drowsiness, dizziness, headaches and more.
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WHAT IS FACEMASK FATIGUE?
Because we are now wearing facemasks for longer periods, we are restricting our ability to breathe in oxygen – or worse, breathing back in the carbon dioxide our body needs to expel. Stanford researchers recently reported “N95 masks are estimated to reduce oxygen intake by anywhere from 5 to 20 percent.” Also, surgeons and doctors have always known about the effects of Facemask Fatigue, as they regularly wear their masks for long periods during operations. Now, the general public is experiencing firsthand the same breathing situation that doctors and surgeons have always faced. Recently, a driver in New Jersey crashed their car after passing out from wearing a mask too long. Local police said: "The crash is believed to have resulted from the driver wearing an N95 mask for several hours and subsequently passing out behind the wheel due to insufficient oxygen intake/excessive carbon dioxide intake.” Click here to read the full article from ABC News
HOW SUPPLEMENTAL OXYGEN CAN FIGHT FACEMASK FATIGUE
Breathing in oxygen alleviates the symptoms of Facemask Fatigue by providing the lungs the necessary oxygen it requires for your body to create energy. If you need to wear your mask for long periods, access to supplemental oxygen like Boost Oxygen can help restore your oxygen levels and help you feel better. Boost Oxygen is all-natural respiratory support! Boost Oxygen provides a portable and convenient source of 95% pure Aviator’s Breathing Oxygen. Once again, it’s very IMPORTANT that we all CONTINUE to wear masks for protection during the pandemic as restrictions are lifted and people return to work and the outdoors. Whether you are wearing a mask inside (where healthy oxygen levels can be much less due to indoor pollutants in the air) or outside as the weather warms, Boost Oxygen is here to help fight Facemask Fatigue.