The Pros and Cons of Wearing a Mask Long Term
For most of 2020, nearly every business and restaurant across the country have required you to wear a mask or some type of face shield in the hope of reducing the spread of Covid-19. The number of cases has certainly tapered off over the past couple of months, but recently many states have begun to extend the facemask requirements even further. While wearing masks appear to be a very good thing for us in the present, wearing them long term could cause several negative effects on our health. Here is a look at several of the pros and cons of wearing a mask long term.
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Pros of Wearing a Mask Long Term
When it comes to mask-wearing, there are some pros. I think it’s important to look at each side of something and see what the positives can be! Here we are going to talk about the PROS of wearing a mask long term.
Reduces The Number of Droplets Expelled
Every time that we open our mouths to talk, laugh, sneeze, or cough, we are spitting out tiny droplets of mucus that we may not even see. If you are infected with the virus, it only takes one of those droplet sessions to get several other people around you sick. Masks can’t completely stop every droplet, but it can drastically limit the number of droplets that land on other surfaces.
Corona Cases Have Gone Down
There have been positive reports coming back from Australia, when their government made the decision to make wearing masks mandatory as of April 6th. In just a matter of two weeks, the number of reported Covid-19 cases went down from 90 to 10 cases per one million people. Similar results have been found in other countries as well, including Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Cons of Wearing a Mask Long Term
Just as I mentioned some pros from wearing a mask long term, I wanted to talk about the cons. Although I found more cons with wearing a mask long term, it doesn’t mean I disagree with anyone that chooses to wear one long term.
Not All Masks are the Same
It may come as a surprise to some of you, but not all face coverings are as good as others. It’s been proven that cloth face masks offer us only slight protection and should only be used as a last resort.
A while back there was a study done with healthcare workers working at 14 different hospitals. One group continued wearing medical masks, while the other group of medical workers wore cloth face masks. The outcome for those wearing the cloth masks showed the rate of infection was 13 times higher than those who wore medical masks.
Other masks, like the N95 mask, have a valve in it that protects the user, but not from them spreading the virus to others. The mask has also been linked to a number of health problems that could have lasting consequences more severe than the virus.
You may have noticed many people that are choosing to wear their masks even when they are doing an activity outside while being nowhere near the proximity of other people. I find this a bit extreme myself because there is no clear cut evidence that the virus has infected the air that we breathe while in the open outdoors.
So, if that’s the case, it’s entirely pointless. There’s no benefit of wearing one while you are outdoors unless you are very close to others, and you’re only wasting resources when you throw away your disposable mask once you go inside. We should be using these resources where they are actually going to be effective. Of course, we must all do what we feel comfortable doing.
Masks Don’t Work on Their Own
There’s no arguing against the fact that masks have helped slow the spread of the virus. The numbers over the past couple of months have certainly brought us to that conclusion. But if you are not social distancing, or practicing good hygiene by washing your hands often, wearing a mask will only get you so far.
A mask can prevent you and others from spreading the virus as easily, but washing your hands has been found to be the best way to keep you and others from getting sick.
Makes Us More Conscious of Our Face
Wearing a mask has only made us more aware of our faces, as we continually find ourselves adjusting our facemasks quite often. This can also lead to an increase in the chances of you getting sick since we’ve been told the virus can enter our body through the nose, mouth, and possibly the eyes.
Ignorance is NOT Bliss
Even if your mask does do its job and stops the infection from spreading to you and others, that reusable mask is still contaminated. Without you even knowing it, making the decision to repeatedly wear it increases the risk not only for you, but for others getting sick. Especially if you continue to touch and readjust your contaminated mask with your hands, you can easily spread the virus by using your hands after touching other surfaces that are contaminated.
Wearing Masks Could Lead to Harmful and Dangerous Effects
Wearing our masks long term may even be potentially dangerous for our overall health. There have been a number of studies done recently that have looked into the dangers of wearing a facemask long term and these are a few areas for you to be concerned about. Please remember to always consult with YOUR doctor or healthcare specialist to decide what is best for YOU. You’ve heard me say this before, I know my body, I typically only go to the doctor once a year and only for blood tests or they won’t prescribe my two prescriptions.
- More and more people have been experiencing an increase in headaches over the past several months, which can arguably be related to wearing masks for an extended period of time. We may also be exposing ourselves to breathing in too much carbon dioxide (hypercapnia) while not enough oxygen (hypoxemia), which can cause serious harm to our blood.
- Another danger to look out for includes an increased airway restriction, which makes breathing and proper respiratory function much more difficult to come by. Wearing a mask while working out or doing sports could also be dangerous. You may remember back in May, there were two middle school students who died wearing masks while in gym class.
- There is new evidence that suggests that the virus can even reach our brains, all while wearing a mask. When our masks have been contaminated on the inside, it’s only a matter of time before this happens. The virus itself will move into our nasal passages, providing direct access into our olfactory nerves that can eventually reach our brains and cause even more extensive damage.
Although wearing a facemask has shown us positive results, we still need to be careful how often we wear them, while also remembering to replace and wash them regularly. Social distancing and practicing good hygiene is the very best way to stop the virus from spreading. What do you think the pros and cons of wearing a mask are? I’d love to hear your tips! Please keep prepping and stay safe. May God bless this world, Linda
Copyright Images: Disposable Face Masks Deposit photos_172481272_s-2019
23 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Wearing a Mask Long Term”
Just to point out, not all N95 masks have a valve. We have some that have a valve and some that do not. Since we found out that the ones with the valve do not protect others from things we might expell, we have covered the valve on the inside with a piece of electrical tape. Of course, I have had comments from a few folks that I was not protecting others and had to explain that the valve was sealed on the inside.
Hi Harry, you know what is really interesting with this whole COVID thing, none of us knew and maybe don’t even know NOW how well the masks work. We made sure we had N-95 or N-100 masks, some with valves, some without valves, some face shields in our preps. BUT, until the COVID came, we didn’t question if it had elastic straps, tie straps, or whatever. Unless you worked in a clinic or hospital we may or may not have been storing the “right ones”. Then people said they won’t wear a mask, okay, then don’t wear one. I choose to wear one, to protect Mark and me and those around us. Life is good, stay well, stay safe, my friend, Linda
We are definitely on the same page. We are doing exactly what you and Mark are doing. And, we are avoiding outside contact as much as possible. And, when we do have outside contact, we make sure there is adequate social distancing. God bless you and keep y’all safe. There I included a little bit of Texan vocabulary in there. LOL!!! Harry
Hi Harry, you are truly my Texan friend! I remember visiting my grandparents when they lived In Prairie Hill, Texas. When I was little and would visit them everyone called me “sugar” like “Hi Sugar” it made me smile all the time. Texans know how to live and enjoy life! And make chili without beans. LOL! Linda
Yeah “THEY” all say it’s not the right mask, N95-100 with valve, while medical staff are “demanding” that we surrender the masks to them so they have them. Problem was I was in the thick of it too for work and I needed them. I can’t give you what you already have so …..
Then “The People” who say it’s not the right mask are walking around wearing a neck gaiter or other porous cloth pretending they are better.
The mask police who feel the need to comment on everything, the medical entitlement and the Karens who melt down at everything all need to go away.
We are all responsible for making the choices to go out, wear or not and weight the risk vs reward and/or Quantity Of Life vs Quality Of Life issues. It’s not .Govs job
Hi Matt, great comment as always. Yesterday, I posted this article on my Food Storage Moms FaceBook page. The comments started out with a few mean comments, then the comments started getting aggressive towards one another in the FB thread. Then, it got so out of control against me and all the people commenting that I deleted the post along with over 100 comments. It’s so interesting how people can write things in the privacy of their homes BEHIND a computer. Well, this chick, as in me, uses the DELETE button when things get out of control. The reason I feel inclined to tell you is that you “get it” and see the anger every day in your job. For some reason, those people were not raised with “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I totally agree its the Governor’s job, to make those decisions and we must abide by them. Enough said, stay safe, Linda
I certainly agree with you, Linda, regarding wearing masks outside. I am in a rural neighborhood and none of us wear masks outside unless we are going to be in a group that is tighter than 6 feet apart. I believe that the fresh air does us more good than we realize.
Washing reusable cloth masks is a health protection for both the wearer and those around him or or her, for sure!
I will say that many of my friends are doctors here in the Boston area and roll their eyes when people say that wearing a mask leads to a lack of oxygen. While that may be true for people with very specific lung issues, it is certainly not true for a generally healthy person. Doctors wear masks in surgery for hours at a time, certainly far longer than any of us have to wear them in our daily routines.
Masks during strenuous exercise seems terrible though, and hopefully coaches give enough breaks and keep the kids far enough apart. We have changed our entire sports system in the PK-12 school where I work so that kids are not at risk for a mere football game, for example.
I think the one thing that all of us should think about is how we protect other members of our society by wearing a mask – that is the difference between a civilization vs just a geographically close group of people.
Thank you for a well balanced article on a contentious topic!
Hi Diana, I was really careful when I wrote it. Mark and I follow the rules of the stores by wearing them. I often think I wonder if I lost weight if I would breathe better with these face masks. My skinny daughters said, no. LOL! It is hard when you know some people cannot wear them because of health issues. If I had really bad health issues I would hope I didn’t need to go out. But everyone has a story we must respect. I understand doctors and other members of the health industry must wear them for hours at a time. If they can do it, we can do it. I just want us to have people go back to work, stay healthy, etc. Thank you for your kind words, Linda
I seriously doubt a mask will keep me from getting the virus. Hand washing and not touching my face is more likely to protect me from it. But I wear a mask in public out of consideration for others in spite of the discomfort.
It’s also a good idea to wear a mask when cleaning your chicken coop or run. Here in the Mohave Desert it’s dry, brown and dusty anyhow. If you use straw in your coop you know how much dust it can generate when you are cleaning the coop (which is the main reason I switched to sand). The mask can keep you from getting histoplasmosis, or here in Arizona, Valley Fever, and may keep you from getting Hanta virus. These diseases exist in dust, soil, bird or bat droppings and rodent droppings. If I don’t wear a mask the dust will make me chain sneeze.
About social distancing. If people aren’t keeping their distance from you sneeze or cough and they will back off. 🙂
Diana, according to OSHA regulations, surgery suites require higher than normal levels of oxygen because doctors/nurses are required to wear masks in surgery. The general public who are required to wear masks continuously for 8+ hours in order to keep their jobs do not have that luxury. If masks were not an issue when it comes to the wearers health, then why did OSHA rules require all businesses to perform risk assessments on their employees if they required them to wear masks, at least before Covid came about? This is not only an issue concerning breathing, so please don’t limit it to that, especially without the facts.
HI Ray, oh my gosh, the last sentence!! Now I have the giggles! It really is funny, well not funny, but you know what I mean, if someone coughs or sneezes, we may think, “COVID” whereas before we may not have noticed. I worry every time Mark cleans up the dead leaves (dust) without a mask. Hante Virus is real, and I think he doesn’t wear a mask just to bug me! LOL! Stay well, my friend, Linda
I am a statistician and must disagree with your assertion that masks have caused a decrease in cases. There is no supportable statistical evidence that mask wearing has caused a decrease in cases. In fact, it is just as probable that masks have made no statistical deference in the number of cases and that it is merely the nature of a virus that the number of cases are decreasing over time.
Hi Deborah, well, whatever is lowering the numbers, we are grateful. Linda
I have to wear a mask outside as I am immune suppressed. I have about 40 different cloth ones as the disposable ones are causing a litter problem in the U.K as people just throw them anywhere!I thought that if I had to wear a mask I might as well have some pretty ones and I wash them in a special washing disinfectant.
Hi Susan, oh my gosh, I’m glad you brought this up. I’m seeing used blue paper face masks all over the parking lots outside the stores and restaurants. How hard is it to put them in your car trash bag or your purse or pocket? So we have it in the US as well, I live in Utah and I’m embarrassed how our city looks from litter. I have cloth ones, and I agree if I need to wear them I may as well have purple ones. I bought them off of ETSY. I helped some families earn money by making them and I LOVE the ones I bought. I realize they wouldn’t work in surgery, but I’m not in the medical profession. Stay safe, stay well, and I bet you look awesome in yours! Linda
I like the info. you gave, but right now we wear our masks outstide whenever we go out due to the smoke in the aire due to fires. The material others posted was also very good. We need to be aware of where we are and what may cause us problems. Yet too many are not following the basics and that is causing a rise in cases. We all need to do our best to stay healthy.
Hi Cheryl, oh the smoke is awful where my daughters live in Salt Lake City and So. California! I totally agree if the air is bad I may wear these for the rest of my life. I’m shocked when people refuse to wear them, but that’s their choice. I just hope they don’t get sick or make us sick. We all need to do our part to lower the numbers. Stay well, Linda
I had a supply (small as it was/is) of N-95 masks and medical (blue) masks on hand when all this started. But, I wanted to keep those for “special occasions”!! For example, when I was still able to go to physical therapy, I would wear a disposable (blue) mask. For all other occasions, I made cloth masks. I did quite a bit of research early on before making mine though. What I made has 3 layers – 2 layers of 100% cotton, prewashed and one internal layer of non-woven light weight interfacing. Per my research, the tightly woven cotton was about 1/2 the protection with 2 layers but with the non-woven interfacing it gives (according to the research) an additional 1/4 protection – so I get about 3/4 the protection of N-95 masks according to the research I did. – I no longer have the websites for that research so I cannot give that to you. But, my masks are fully washable and dryable. I also have metal nose pieces in them so I can form the fabric over my nose for a tighter fit. After I made the first couple, I adjusted the sides to fit tighter to the side of my face. I made both elastic ear pieces until the elastic ran out and I couldn’t get any more as well as ties which actually fit my head/face better but are a pain to put on!
I have used delivery for groceries as well as now go to the stores but limit my exposure to just 2X per month. I also go to a local farm market for fresh fruits and veggies but again, limit my trips there as much as possible.
Now with the smoke, I am staying home more than before and praying for the low pressure system to come in to drive away the smoke. We’ve had a bit of rain but the cloud cover is just driving the smoke down closer to the ground and making it even more difficult.
I pray all of your readers and you and Mark stay healthy during these times.
Hi Leanne, I love the thought and research you put into your face mask making. I can tell you did a lot of research. Mark wears hearing aids and he can only ear one that works with his “ear gear”! So we keep a few of those to stay fresh and clean. The smoke has drifted here but you are so much closer to Oregon than we are to California. Crazy fires, I can’t wait for 2021, or at least that’s what I think today! LOL! Stay safe, my friend, Linda
Some people wear masks outside to protect themselves from allergies.
Hi Janet, I was thinking the same thing. We went to Japan to see our granddaughter be characters for Disney Toyko and we saw face masks back then. They wear them to protect others from their sickness. Plus, it’s the cleanest country I have ever seen. No trash anywhere. I may always wear a mask because of my allergies, great comment. Linda
I have been blessed with a sister and a cousin who made us several masks. All are double thick, with additional interfacing and we insert a large white coffee filter folded in half as an additional protection. We do curbside pickups, or shop small outside family vegetable stands. My husband has gone into Walgeens or CVS, but only for limited needs. I have excepted that this is the way life will be for the foreseeable future.
Hi Chris, I expect this will be our way of life for many years to come. For me, I would rather stay healthy and wear a mask than end up in the hospital. I do curbside pickups as well. We have to do what we need to do to stay well. Thanks for sharing about the layers in the masks your sister and cousin made for you. What a blessing, Linda