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COPD and Living Comfortably with a Mask

June2020image002If you do not feel comfortable wearing a mask, practice the same safety measures that have been in place since the pandemic began: stay home and contacting your physician if you begin experiencing symptoms such as a fever or a consistent cough.

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to spike across the country, health experts are imploring people to wear masks in public, especially indoors and other places where social distancing is impossible. While this practice has proven effective in combatting COVID-19, wearing a mask may be challenging for those living with lung conditions such as COPD and asthma.

Rather than simply not wearing a mask when going out in public – a huge risk for anyone, especially those with underlying conditions – there are some things people who are concerned can do. For starters, try wearing a mask around the house to get accustomed to with how it feels. Do not use n95 masks, which should be used solely for healthcare providers and can also be difficult to breathe through. And, whatever covering you choose, make sure it covers your nose and mouth.

Dr. Tania Elliott, an allergist and immunologist as well as the spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, suggests wearing masks that are moisture-wicking and made of breathable fabric. Bandanas and neck gaiters are good options as well because they are effective barriers but offer more breathability as they are open on the bottom, Dr. Elliott said.

If you decide to run an errand while wearing a mask, do what you need to do and head back home. This is the worst possible time to stroll around a store and browse. Also, clean your mask after each use.

“Wearing cloth masks can lead to a buildup of sweat, mucous and secretions if worn for a prolonged period of time,” said Dr. Elliott. “It’s very important to wash and dry masks on the highest heat setting after each usage so it doesn’t become a source of infection, especially for asthma or COPD patients.”

Check the weather too. Most people have a hard time breathing on hot and humid days, so try and pick a day with cooler temperatures in the forecast. And because air pollution can also make breathing difficult, log on to airnow.gov, enter your zip code and check the conditions before heading out.

For more information, read the story.