impact oxygen saturation for people with and without asthma. There is no clinical or peer-reviewed study to support the claim that face masks increase your body’s carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.
People with COPD or severe uncontrolled asthma are still recommended to wear masks. People with asthma are able to breathe through cloth and standard medical masks without an asthma flare-up. Cloth and medical masks can even aid in blocking common asthma and allergy triggers such as cold air, pollen and dander.
“I have not seen any patients admitted to the ER with asthma exacerbation precipitated by a mask. It’s the opposite. Masks, social distancing and vaccines are beneficial for keeping people out of the ER, especially those with asthma and other illnesses who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 infection,” Dr. Nathan Uyamadu, an emergency medicine physician says.
If, in the rare case, prolonged face masks wear causes an asthma flare-up, speak with a healthcare provider to develop a treatment plan that might include identifying triggers, controller medication, quick-relief rescue medications, and, if necessary, mask medical exemption.
Note that people with asthma who contract COVID-19 have an increased risk of death and COVID-19 complications.
So, if your uncontrolled asthma results in a mask exemption, you should still practice COVID-19 safety measures such as social distancing and avoiding unnecessary public transportation trips.
Signs of uncontrolled asthma
- Frequent wheezing and coughing
- Nighttime flare-ups that impair sleeping
- Reliance on a rescue inhaler more than three times a week
- Recent asthma attack or hospitalization
- Daily chest tightness and shortness of breath
How to make it easier to breathe while wearing a mask
- Avoid wearing masks made of fabric that are not breathable such as vinyl and polyester. Consider face masks made with moisture-wicking and breathable 100% cotton fabric.
- If you are unable to wear a mask for prolonged periods, avoid long-distance traveling on public transportation to limit the risk of infections for yourself and others.
- Experiment with different sizes, types of medical masks and facial coverings to find the right fit.
- Practice wearing facial masks at home in short 20-minute intervals to get used to the feeling.