How Wearing a Mask Can Reduce Allergy Symptoms

As we head into our second pandemic spring, many of us may be itching to leave our masks. But for 19.2 million Americans Adults with seasonal allergies are another reason for wearing masks.

While clothes and medical masks do a good job of protecting us from viral particles, studies show masks can also be effective in filtering out common allergens, which usually float to much larger sizes, making them easier to block. . Pine tree pollen, for example, is about 800 times larger than coronovirus, said Dr. David Lang, an allergist at the Cleveland Clinic. Even before the epidemic, he advised patients with severe allergies to wear masks outside, especially for lengthy activities such as gardening or yardwork.

Using masks to reduce allergy symptoms may require little “trial and error”, an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health, Dr. Poorvi Parikh said. But above all, “if there is less pollen in your nose and mouth, then you are less likely to have an allergy attack,” she said.

Israeli researchers recently studied how much difference wearing a mask can make for people suffering from allergies with mild, moderate and severe symptoms. Using data collected from 215 nurses using surgical masks or N95 masks over a two-week period, they found that among 44 nurses with severe allergy symptoms, about 40 percent reported less sneezing, runny nose, and He experienced a stuffy nose that either he wore a surgical one. Or N95 mask. Among 91 nurses with moderate symptoms, there was a 30 percent improvement in wearing a surgical mask; When they wore the N95, it increased to 40 percent. Of the 80 nurses who started the study with mild symptoms, 43 nurses or about 54 percent had improved their symptoms while wearing surgical or N95 masks, said Dr. Galilee Medical Center and a physician-scientist at Bar-Elan, Dr. . Emile Dor. University Azerili Faculty of Medicine and lead author of the study.

The use of masks was also more effective for nurses with seasonal allergies than year-round symptoms. According to the report published in September, wearing masks did not solve the problem of itchy eyes Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Although findings suggest that wearing a mask may reduce allergy symptoms for some people, researchers said more studies are needed. It may be that nurses experienced fewer symptoms, because when they were not working, they were staying indoors and avoiding congestion during lockdown, and thus were less exposed to allergens in the environment . But the fact that wearing a mask, which covers the nose and mouth, was associated with an improvement in nasal symptoms, but not eye irritation, suggests that masking probably helps alleviate many allergic symptoms.

In addition to filtering allergens, wearing a mask also heats the air in our nasal cavities and is more humid, Dr. Dorr said. “We know that dry air and cool air sometimes have the ability to react in the nose,” he said. “This is an added benefit of wearing a mask. With all the bad, you can find something good. “

Protection changes the mask, depending on the fit and, for the fabric mask, the weaving of the fabric. And unless you wear a mask all the time, you can be affected by indoor allergies such as dust mites or pollen through open windows on spring vents.

“It’s not necessary, but it’s going to take away all your symptoms,” Dr. Professor of Otolarynology – Head and Neck Surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Sandra Lynn said. “Masks worn by pretty much everyone are now mostly, and people are still getting symptoms of allergies.”

Here are some more tips to reduce your symptoms during allergy season.

  • Protect your eyes. Dr. Lang advises those who suffer from allergies, wearing glasses or sunglasses when they are outside, which helps prevent tree pollen-like allergies from making direct contact with the eyes.

  • Wash and replace your mask frequently. Dr. Parikh said, “The last thing you want is this.” She advises patients to change their clothes when they come home and take showers before bedtime, to ensure that pollen does not stick to their skin, and to wash reusable masks more often. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Recommends washing A cloth mask after each use.

  • Apply a mask that does not irritate your skin. to select Perfect mask It can also be important for a person with an allergy. People with sensitive skin may react to dyes in some cloth masks and should use perfume-free detergents. Or choose a surgical or medical grade mask that minimizes skin irritation. “My allergy sufferers have very sensitive skin because the same critters that make them sneeze or cough can also irritate their skin,” Dr. Parikh said.

  • Talk to a doctor if your allergy symptoms are severe. Dr. “If people are seeing symptoms hindering normal activity – if they are missing from work, missing from school, their sleep is interrupted at night,” Lang said. “There are other ways we can help. You should not suffer unnecessarily. “

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