Since March 2020, people living in the United States and around the world have, for the most part, become accustomed to wearing a face covering or masks when outside their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic progressed, we all learned about the effectiveness of masks, such as KN95 masks, in preventing the spread of airborne illnesses.
One unexpected byproduct of the new habit was revealed, with anecdotal evidence at first, that mask-wearers were finding relief from other air and breathing-related issues, as well. The incidence of the seasonal flu dropped dramatically. Allergy sufferers reported their symptoms seemed to lessen while wearing their masks. Questions swirled about whether masks were to thank for these and other positive side effects.
So, the question remains, even when the coronavirus pandemic subsides, should you continue using your masks? And under what circumstances?
Can KN95 masks help with allergies?
One of the first reported positive byproducts of mask-wearing had to do with allergy symptoms. As the year went on and researchers were able to compile additional data, it became clear that face coverings were helping allergy sufferers by filtering out pollen and other irritants.
What was once an occasional recommendation for severe allergies or people doing yard work with heavy exposure to pollen, mask-wearing for pollen allergies was tested on a much larger scale during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Doctors and medical offices saw fewer reports of seasonal allergies in 2020.
Of course, there are frequently inhaled allergens indoors and at home, including dust mites and animal dander. Patients with those allergies saw an increase in symptoms in many cases because they were spending more time indoors. Because the vast majority of people do not wear masks inside their own homes, masks are not considered a viable solution for these allergies.
Should you wear a KN95 during flu season?
There was a steep drop in the reported cases of seasonal flu during the coronavirus pandemic, to the extent that news headlines went as far as saying the flu had “disappeared.” The generally accepted explanation is that the same measures that help prevent the spread of COVID-19, namely social distancing and mask-wearing, also help prevent transmission of influenza.
Only 700 flu deaths were reported for the 2020-2021 season, compared with the Centers for Disease Control’s estimate for the prior season topping 22,000.
It is still essential for every eligible person to get their flu vaccine for 2021. The CDC’s interim guidance emphasizes the importance of vaccines and social measures like covering coughs and sneezes and handwashing to prevent the spread of influenza.
The CDC also points out that the flu can be spread before an infected person is symptomatic, making it difficult to control a flu outbreak solely by using masks. Because of this, an asymptomatic, unvaccinated, high-risk individual would likely need to wear their mask at all times when respiratory illnesses are spreading in their community, including at home around family members.
The 2021-2022 flu season will provide a lot more data and information on masks to prevent the spread of the flu. Should you choose to continue wearing a mask to prevent respiratory illnesses, make sure, it is a well-fitted respirator-style mask like a KN95 or N95.
Will a KN95 help with air quality during wildfires?
North America is headed into wildfire season, with fires raging for a longer period each year. People living even hundreds of miles away often suffer the effect of dangerously poor air quality as the smoke travels great distances.
Air pollution from wildfires is irritating to your eyes and respiratory system, with side effects including everything from burning eyes and runny noses to aggravation of existing lung diseases.
The excellent news is high-quality masks like N95s and KN95s can help filter out this pollution and provide some relief. KN95 respirators are made to filter out particles larger than 0.3 microns, much finer than a typical smoke particle at 2.5 microns.
Doctors and researchers paid close attention to the use of masks during the 2020 wildfire season and recommended the use of KN95s to help alleviate any respiratory symptoms associated with the wildfire smoke.
Whatever situation you have decided KN95 respirators might help you with, NewRain has you covered. We offer single-use KN95s that include 5 layers of fabric and filter 95% of particles from the air. Contact NewRain today to obtain your KN95 particulate respirators.