Wearing Masks With Asthma
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the number of cases has been fluctuating, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people wear face masks when in public and to maintain social distancing.1,2 But if you have asthma, face masks can feel burdensome. We asked our Facebook community: Has wearing a face mask impacted asthma symptoms (such as increased shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, etc)? We received more than 900 responses! Here are some of the things you shared.
It's uncomfortable, but I still use it
Many in the community have shared that wearing a mask has been extremely uncomfortable and has impacted their asthma symptoms. However, they choose to continue to follow CDC guidelines by wearing a mask when in public.
“Yes, it's uncomfortable. Yes, it's HOT, but the fear of contracting COVID has me masking in public.”
“I’d rather be uncomfortable in my N95 than be intubated, potentially, by this beast of a virus!”
“Yes but... what’s the alternative? Covid? I’ll take the headache.”
“Wearing a mask is not the most comfortable thing, but it’s the safe, responsible thing to do!”
Different types of masks
Many mentioned that some masks work better than others when it comes to breathing. It may take some experimenting to find a mask that works the best for you.
"My daughter bought me a 3M respirator mask with the big filters on the side and ironically it’s the easiest mask to breathe with!”
“Depends on the mask. The N-95 gives me the most trouble.”
“Face shields are another better alternative than nothing.”
“Cloth masks are very difficult to get cooler air and are way too restrictive. But surgical masks have been a blessing.”
“No increased asthma symptoms, unless it’s the wrong mask. They are not all the same.”
“Depends on the type of mask and how tight it is. The standard surgical mask I have no problems wearing. The N-95 I have to take off periodically.”
Staying home as much as I can
Community members have been looking for ways to reduce time outdoors so they don’t have to wear a mask. This means taking advantage of telehealth visits, having their groceries delivered, and using curb-side pick-up.
”Wearing the mask is hard and I can't seem to breathe very good, so stay home as much as possible.”
“I stay home rather than wear a mask.”
“I wear them when not at home but don’t leave home often.”
Masks may help avoid asthma triggers
Some community members said that wearing a mask actually helped them with their asthma symptoms. Masks can block out triggering allergens and irritants, which seem to be ever-present in the spring and summer months.
”The mask helps with allergic asthma, and I’m glad it’s more socially acceptable to wear them out.”
“I think it has been filtering out my asthmatic triggers.”
“The mask helps with asthma for me too. When I go somewhere I don’t have to worry about asthma triggers.”
Tips for wearing a mask with asthma
With time and experience, some people have found a few tips and tricks for making mask-wearing more bearable. If you are having trouble with your mask, maybe a few of these tips can help.
”I keep my face mask on and take slow breaths. I lift the face mask a little bit and close it back onto my face and repeat.”
“If it gets to bothering me I step outside where no one is, pull it down, and take good deep breaths.”
“I can wear a mask for short periods of time as long as I’m not doing too much moving around.”
“I’m ok with a mask as long as the area is cool enough.”
“I use my albuterol just before going out of the house.”
“Using my rescue inhaler right before wearing a mask for extended periods of time has helped.”
Thank you for sharing your experience with asthma and face masks
Do you get muscle cramps caused by your asthma medicine?