If I ask you, which disease is talk of the town, the answer, by default, would be Swine flu. Swine flu, which had no existence until March 2009, is well known among people, all over the world. Swine flu originated from Mexico and now it is spreading across the length and breadth of the globe. It has become a global menace for the people. News papers are overflowed with distressing news of swine flu and preventive measures. At the time of this global outbreak, it is the responsibility of each of us, not only to protect ourselves but other members in the family and community from the deadly disease. In my previous posts, I shared general information about swine flu and home remedies to avoid swine flu.
You have probably seen pictures of people walking around wearing masks to protect themselves from the new H1N1 virus, which is another name for swine flu. Do you know which types of masks are good for you and how to wear it? According to Center for Disease Control (CDC), information on the effectiveness of facemasks and respirators for decreasing the risk of influenza infection in community settings is extremely limited. Having said that, today I want to provide interim guidance on the use of facemasks and respirators for decreasing the exposure to novel influenza A (H1N1) virus.
Types of Face masks as per USFDA
Flu masks come in two forms:
Surgical masks: These masks are similar to the ones doctors wear in the Operation Room (O.R.). These are thin, relatively cheap, and must be tossed in trash after they become damp from your breath, which usually happens within a few hours. Because they fit loosely against your face, they aren’t as effective at blocking germs that you might breathe in, as they are designed to stop germs you breathe out (if you’re sick) from infecting other people.
Respirator or “N95” masks: These are thicker and are held against your face with elastic straps. They are labeled “N9” on the package and sometimes...
on the mask itself. Outside of healthcare settings, they are worn by people cleaning or working on other home improvement projects, since they filter out dust and other particles. They’re more expensive than surgical masks, but they can be reused as long as they aren’t soiled, damaged, or wet.
According to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), facemasks have several designs.
- One type is affixed to the head with two ties, conforms to the face with the aid of a flexible adjustment for the nose bridge, and may be flat/pleated or duck-billed in shape.
- Second type of facemask is pre-molded, adheres to the head with a single elastic band, and has a flexible adjustment for the nose bridge.
- A third type is flat/ pleated and affixes to the head with ear loops.
Role of face masks in protection
Facemasks cleared by the FDA for use as medical devices have been determined to have specific levels of protection from penetration of blood and body fluids. Facemasks help stop droplets from being spread by the person wearing them. They also keep splashes or sprays from reaching the mouth and nose of the person wearing the facemask. They are not designed to protect against breathing in very small particle aerosols that may contain viruses. Rule of thumb is that facemasks should be used once and then thrown away in the trash.
Know how to use face masks
If there’s an outbreak in your area and you have to go out. You should know how to wear face masks to give maximum protection. Here is the video on respirators/ face masks, designed by CDC. This will give you the idea how to use face masks to maximize protection.