Wearing Face Masks Does Not Affect Your Oxygen Intake
Since the COVID-19 outbreak started face masks have become part of your daily check before leaving your house: keys? wallet? mask? Check!
However, a number of people around the world are struggling to incorporate them in their day to day lives as they find them too uncomfortable or potentially dangerous to wear. The latter has been questioned rigorously.
Now that a number of reputable organizations have discounted any danger from lack of oxygen or carbon dioxide toxicity, you really should pop that face mask back on — you can even choose from a number of different styles.
No, your face mask won't minimize your oxygen intake
You won't likely get carbon dioxide poisoning nor will you suffer from lack of air intake by wearing your face mask, as per a comprehensive look into the matter by USA Today last month. Here's why.
Both surgical face masks and cloth masks are porous, meaning air can move in and out relatively easily through them. However, they still manage to block out droplets from making their way out from behind your mask. This is the main reason you're recommended to wear them as the coronavirus is an airborne viral disease more easily passed on through droplets.
It may feel like wearing a face mask reduces your airflow leading to hypoxia (a lack of enough oxygen in tissue) or hypoxemia (low arterial oxygen supply), but these masks can't reduce the intake level to that extent.
The other issue worrying about some people is hypercapnia (too much carbon dioxide in the bloodstream). However, there's no evidence that this occurs by wearing masks. Yes, you will most likely rebreathe some CO2 while wearing your mask, but not at harmful levels.
"There is no risk of hypercapnia in healthy adults who use face coverings, including medical and cloth face masks, as well as N95s," Robert Glatter, a physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told Healthline. "Carbon dioxide molecules freely diffuse through the masks, allowing normal gas exchange while breathing."
That said, there are exceptions. If anyone suffers from lung issues due to a disease or any other breathing problems, they should speak with a doctor prior to wearing a face mask regularly. Moreover, face masks aren't recommended for children under 2 years old.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends any healthcare worker wearing a face mask, even an N95 mask that filters air, to take regular breaks from wearing them. The CDC makes this recommendation as wearing the masks for extended periods of time, as healthcare workers do, can lead to hypoventilation, which means less depth of breathing.
However, if you're still not convinced, a number of companies are working on creating more breathable and comfortable face masks, just like this one with transparent ones.