asthma patients and masks

  • 13 Apr 2020 12:15 PM
    Message # 8896428

    Good Afternoon, 

    Have you had any concerns posed by asthma patients having difficulty wearing surgical or homemade masks during the pandemic?  Our hospital recently required employees wear surgical masks while at work.  Several of our dietary employees have asthma and are noticing the constriction of wearing a mask while they're serving in the cafeteria.  Any feedback would be appreciated.

    Thank you, Gloria Ayres

  • 20 Apr 2020 11:43 AM
    Reply # 8911094 on 8896428

    Thank you for your question Gloria! This is a very challenging time for all of us, as we try to continue our usual routine and participation in some semblance of normalcy with the heighten awareness of the potential for illness from an unintended source with COVID 19 exposures. 

    People with asthma are at a higher risk with COVID-19 and should limit exposures as best as possible following the CDC guidelines.  That said, with the use of any item covering our nose and mouth, there can easily be the perception of air blockage, as well as the other sensations that occur as we feel the warmth and moisture when breathing through a face covering.   Types of face coverings, activity levels, as well as specific environments can increase these sensations.   When we feel more breathless, this can add a sense of anxiety and change our usual breathing patterns.  It is important to know the status of the individual’s asthma control, using the Rules of Two or the Asthma Control Test, and then discussing the results with the HCP for recommendations on managing their asthma during this time.  The recommendations can be tailored to the individual as only their HCP would know with their level of impairment and risk.  A step up in therapy may be considered, instructions for pretreatment of a specific activity may be offered and then an adjustment in their written Asthma Action Plan would be needed.  Additionally, there can be specific instructions to consider during this time if working in a public environment and using a mask causes trouble breathing as work environments may be affected as associated with occupational asthma.

    Please stay safe keeping everyone safe.

    The CDC Guidelines do include directions on face coverings as well as for who should not be using cloth face coverings at this time.

    • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
    • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
    • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
    • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
    • Do NOT use a face mask meant for a healthcare worker.
    • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing
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