Wearing face mask protection can drastically reduce the risk of coronavirus infection for you and your loved ones. Unfortunately, the heated discussion about wearing masks has become a polarizing topic that has resulted in the rampant spread of misinformation.
It's time to clear the air! We've compiled 7 of the biggest face mask myths circulating the internet. Let's get to the bottom of this controversy and figure out the truth once and for all.
Myth #1: Face mask usage worsens coronavirus infection
If you're infected with the coronavirus, can wearing a face mask make it worse? Many people believe this. The logic is that they're re-exposing themselves to the viral particle they're exhaling. In turn, this could make them sicker.
Fact: "Plandemic," a documentary filled with pseudoscience, popularized this nonsense. Thankfully, scientists have repeatedly invalidated this claim. Not only does this declaration have no real merit to back it up, but research has shown that you cannot reinfect yourself with the coronavirus if you already have it. On the contrary, evidence from recent studies show that you're protected for some time from any potential reinfection once your body has mounted an immune response to COVID-19.
Myth #2: Neck gaiters increase your risk of viral infection
During this summer, the news was filled with headlines denouncing neck gaiters. Many media outlets claimed that these fabric wraps actually make your COVID-19 infection risk greater than not wearing any mask at all!
Fact: While this fabricated claim hit close to home for us, it's fortunately completely false. The negative sentiment surrounding neck gaiters came from a Duke University study in which researchers were trying to figure out how to measure a mask's effectiveness. Its results were taken out of context, and numerous news sources ran with this twisted version of the story. In truth, the efficacy of cloth face masks and neck gaiters for COVID-19 infection depends on the material, thickness, and layers of your fabric.
Myth #3: Face mask protection limits your oxygen levels
It's no surprise that many people find face mask usage uncomfortable. Among the complaints are that they pull on your ears and cause you to overheat. lBut do they actually make it difficult for wearers to breathe?
Fact: Despite some slight discomfort, face mask protection has consistently been proven to be safe. Medical staff use them day-in and day-out in healthcare facilities across the world long before the coronavirus pandemic. When this falsehood caught traction on the internet, many medical doctors jumped into the conversation to prove that face masks don't reduce oxygen saturation levels.
You may be asking, "What about health conditions like asthma?" Doctors have repeatedly stated that there are no legitimate reasons for a medical exemption from wearing face mask protection. If a particular face mask is really bothering you, try another option that fits your face properly. You can even wear a face mask while doing cardio exercises (although, it does become less effective when drenched in sweat).
An important caveat here is that industrial-quality respirator masks could affect oxygen intake levels. This can especially be the case if they're worn for long periods of time. But for common types of face mask protection, such as cloth masks, neck gaiters, or surgical masks, oxygen levels should suffer no consequences from prolonged use.
Myth #4: Feel fine? Then you don't need a face mask
Are you showing no signs of the coronavirus, such as a high fever or dry cough? Do you feel completely okay? Then there's probably no need for you to wear a face mask, right? Wrong!
Fact: According to research, as many as 40% of coronavirus carriers show no symptoms at all; this means that they are asymptomatic. Unfortunately, these carriers can still spread the sickness to other people — even if they don't know they're contagious. As if things weren't complicated enough, those who do show signs of coronavirus infection can be contagious before those symptoms ever surface. It's imperative that everyone practices wearing a face mask consistently. It's one of the most important things we can do to slow the spread of this deadly illness.
Myth #5: Face masks only protect their wearers, not people around them
Many people believe that face masks only help their wearers. For this reason, only people who are scared of getting sick should wear them.
Fact: Actually, face mask protection usage is primarily beneficial for the people around you — that's why it's so important that we all do it. Each time you sneeze, cough, breathe, or speak, face masks block respiratory particles from spreading out in the surrounding air environment and onto other people.
Confusing public health messaging early on in the pandemic may be the cause of this myth. Recent research shows that the more people who wear a face mask, the better. Don't believe it? Here's a real example of this in action: 2 Missouri hairdressers who were asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus recently worked with 139 clients. None of those customers became sick because all of them and the stylists wore face masks.
Myth #6: Wearing face mask protection is political
Face mask protection has become highly politicized. Consequently, many people now think it's just an issue of politics or "virtue-signaling" that doesn't really impact our battle against the coronavirus.
Fact: Face mask protection works in impeding the spread of COVID-19. In fact, research from the UK found that if its entire population wore masks, this action could slow down the coronavirus enough so that lockdowns were no longer necessary. Everyone should put their politics aside and do what's best for humanity.
Myth #7: You can be close to other people if you wear a face mask
Some of the general public believe that guidance from health officials allows them to be close to other people in public if they wear face masks.
Fact: Masks are our first line of defense in the fight against COVID-19. But they are not enough. In addition to wearing face mask protection, people should also take other precautions to decrease their chances of becoming infected. Wash your hands frequently and maintain six feet of distance from others whenever it's possible. These actions are small, but they can save thousands of lives.
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