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COVID-19 can cause a number of symptoms that may only appear several days after exposure.
The common symptoms are cough, fever, and shortness of breath.
The virus is primarily spread by respiratory droplets transmitted via close contact (within 6 feet) with an infected person.
Respiratory droplets are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
That’s why during the pandemic, masks, once relegated to specific professions, are quickly becoming commonplace.
But, as you may know, not all masks are the same. Filtering facepiece respirators, commonly referred to as n95 disposable respirators, are regulated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
In this article, we’ll breakdown in detail the N95 face mask ( N95 respirator mask). What is it? Why it is important? How to use it? And should protect yourself from the virus, even if you’re not sick?
What is the N95 face mask?
An N95 respirator mask is a type of masks which removes particles from the air that are breathed through it.
And, as we have seen earlier, these masks filter at least 95 percent of 0.3 microns particles (very small particles).
And as we mentioned earlier, N95 masks are capable to filter out all types of particles, including bacteria and viruses.
What is a respirator?
A respirator is a personal protective device that covers at least the nose and/or mouth.
A respirator is used to reduce the wearer’s risk of inhaling hazardous airborne particles, such as gases, vapors, and viruses.
What does N95 stand for?
N: It is a Respirator Rating Letter Class. It stands for “Non-Oil” meaning that if no oil-based particulates are present, then you can use the mask in the work environment.
95: This refers to the efficiency of the mask. It means that the masks have 95 percent efficiency.
Should I wear any type of N95 face masks?
You should only opt for an N95 disposable respirator mask that is certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for maximum benefits. Otherwise, you may not get and adequate protection, there are some similar face masks that you can wear in case there is no N95 mask at your place, there are FFP2 face mask, ffp3, KN95 face masks, etc.
Should I check with a Healthcare before wearing the mask?
If you have some medical conditions, wearing a mask may make breathing more difficult because you must pull air through the mask as you inhale.
Those who have breathing issues such as asthma, or cardio/pulmonary problems should consult with their physician before using one.
If at any time during the use of the mask you experience headache, nausea, or have any difficulties while breathing, immediately leave the area, take off the mask, get fresh air, and consult with your doctor.
How to Wear the N95 Face Mask?
When you wear the n95 disposable respirator, you must cover both the nose and mouth to keep you from breathing in mold and dust. And, always use both straps on the mask to hold it in place to keep air from leaking around it.
You should use an N95 mask even if you can’t see the particles because they may be too small to see.
P.S: Always read and follow the manufacturer’s directions when using an N95 mask.
My N95 respirator has an exhalation valve, am I protected?
An N95 respirator mask that has an exhalation valve does provide the same level of protection as one that does not have a valve. The reason that may have an exhalation valve is to reduce exhalation resistance, which makes it easier to breathe.
How to Make Sure the Mask Fits?
To verify that you have correctly put on the mask and adjusted it to fit properly, you must do both positive and negative pressure checks.
- Negative pressure check
Place your hands over the mask and inhale sharply. Do not disturb the position of the mask. The mask should pull into your face.
If air goes around your face or eyes, adjust the mask and straps properly then repeat the pressure check.
- Positive pressure check
Once the negative check is done, you may want to perform a positive one.
To do it, put your hands over the mask and breathe out sharply. If your mask has an exhalation valve, just cover the exhalation valve when you exhale.
If the air leaks out then, you are not wearing the mask in a proper way. Readjust the mask and repeat the pressure check.
Who should wear an N95 Mask Respirator?
Wearing a respirator when having medical conditions may not be a good idea.
Workers must have a medical evaluation to make sure that they are able to wear a respirator without any problem, before using a respirator or getting fit-tested.
The main role of face masks remains for patient source control, to prevent contamination of the surrounding area when a person coughs or sneezes.
Patients with confirmed or suspected coronavirus should wear a facemask until they are isolated in a hospital or at home.
Can I reuse the N95 Face Mask?
As the N95 mask blocked out, it becomes more difficult to breathe. When this occurs, you may want to use a new one.
Ignore the mask if it is wet, dirty, deformed, or if the filter is broken. In these cases, masks may not fit properly which reduces their ability to protect you against small particles such as bacteria and viruses.
An N95 mask cannot be cleaned or disinfected. A good idea is to opt for a new one.
What are the best practices to follow apart from wearing the mask?
- Wash your hands frequently using soap and water for 20-30 seconds or an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cough into a flexed elbow or tissue, discard the tissue in the trash, and wash hands.
- Stay away from public places if feeling unwell.
Finally, frequent hand washing and avoiding close contact with people who are sick can be your best defenses against viruses and other infections.
If you want to use N95 face masks or FFP2 face masks be sure to follow the infection prevention steps and guidelines to help protect your family and limit the spread of COVID-19.