Do Face Masks lead to over exposure to CO2? Here’s what the latest research says

Do Face Masks lead to over exposure of CO2 and lead to carbon dioxide poisoning? While scientists are busy trying to find the vaccine for COVID19, the other aspect of the fight is the slew of messages that claim otherwise. The recent most trend and indeed some political comments have sparked the fear of masks increasing over-exposure to CO2 and causing carbon dioxide poisoning. Well, research says otherwise.

The study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society shows that it is not so. A study conducted and published by Michael Campos, MD and co-authors assessed the problems of gas exchange and its correlation with the level of oxygen or carbon dioxide.

The research studied the change in levels of O2 and CO2 in healthy individuals as well as people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD (in other words lung disorder/ disease) before and while using surgical masks to answer Do Face Masks lead to over-exposure to CO2

The study, called “Effect of Face Masks on Gas Exchange in Healthy Persons and Patients with COPD,”  found minimal impact in the levels, even in people with most sever lung impairment.

“We show that the effects are minimal at most even in people with very severe lung impairment,” said Dr. Campos of the Miami Veterans Administration Medical Center and the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the University of Miami.

Why do I feel breathlessness after I wear a mask even though I am healthy?

If you are completely healthy and feel breathlessness while wearing a mask, you are not dreaming it. It is very possible but the reason is not the increase in CO2 levels. Dr. Campos explains people might feel Dyspnea – or shortness of breath. This is most likely due to restricted flow of air with the mask in particular. He further explains that the you are most likely to experience the same when your body is exerting and needs higher ventilation (amounts of air).

“Dyspnea, the feeling of shortness of breath, felt with masks by some is not synonymous of alterations in gas exchange. It likely occurs from restriction of air flow with the mask in particular when higher ventilation is needed (on exertion),” he writes.

Do Face Masks lead to over-exposure to CO2? So what to do?

The solution is quite simple – slow down. In case you have been brisk walking while wearing a mask, try to slow down. If you are at a safe distance from people, removing the mask may also help. Also, heavy exercise while wearing a mask is not advisable. Also, an overly tight mask may also cause the shortness of breath.

As for wearing the mask, health professionals cannot stress on the importance of that enough. India continues to fight the disease and pandemic. With more and more restrictions being lifted, masks are becoming all the more important.

“We acknowledge that our observations may be limited by sample size, however our population offers a clear signal on the nil effect of surgical masks on relevant physiological changes in gas exchange under routine circumstances (prolonged rest, brief walking),” wrote the authors.

“It is important to inform the public that the discomfort associated with mask use should not lead to unsubstantiated safety concerns as this may attenuate the application of a practice proven to improve public health. The public should not believe that masks kill,” added Dr. Campos. So Do Face Masks lead to over exposure to CO2, We have tried to answer as practically we can

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