Now that masks are mandatory in schools and other public spaces in many jurisdictions, anyone nervous about wearing one may feel like they’re really going to suffocate – but there’s no reason to panic.
Wearing a mask is safe and doesn’t physically limit breathing, said respirologist Christopher Ewing, of the U of A’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. “They don’t affect the concentration or uptake of oxygen in any way, and there is no significant trapping or rebreathing of carbon dioxide.”
Though conditions such as autism or sensory processing disorders may prevent someone from wearing a mask due to intolerance of the facial sensations, adults or children with asthma or other lung conditions can safely wear them, he added.
“Masks don’t add enough additional resistance to the airways to limit air flow in any significant way, even for patients with lung disease. If anything, when people have an obstructive lung disease such as asthma or COPD, breathing against resistance can actually help keep airways open and prevent them from collapsing during exhalation.”