A cloth face mask, sometimes called a nasal mask, is a thin mask typically made from coarse textiles, typically cotton, worn over either the nose and mouth or over the cheeks. The purpose of a face mask in asthmatics is to provide some measure of relief from congestion. Nasal cloths are useful for this purpose because the wearer’s airway does not pass through the mask and therefore is better regulated than if the cloth covered area traveled through the mask. Even when effective over-the-counter anti-histamines are not available, and even when physical distancing would be impossible, some asthmatics find relief from using nasal cloths. Such cloths are generally thinner at the sides than at the top and may have tiny strips of fabric left at the top to cover the nose and mouth, rather than just an elastic head band.
Since they do not have a tapered shape like nasal masks, nasal or forehead spreader devices cannot be used with them. These devices are only suitable for people with very enlarged noses or for people whose noses are too large to fit into the nasal spreader device. Asthmatics who wish to wear a nasal or forehead device should consult their health care provider first. Because these devices spread the patient’s mucus into the air, the procedure can cause some discomfort for the asthmatic.
There are several face masks available in the market today. These include face shields (often called nasal guards or nebulizers), nebulizers (also called inhalers), medicated sponges, and cloth compression units. The most commonly used cloth device for reducing or controlling asthma symptoms in asthmatics are face masks. There are three main types of face shield designs.
Closed Face Mask: A closed face mask, also known as a nasal strip, is worn over only the nose and mouth. A plastic piece of material is inserted into the nose and the mouth so that no air escapes and the patient can breathe freely. This type of mask has no ventilation openings, which makes it unsuitable for asthmatics who suffer from sinus infections. It is therefore often used for children, pregnant women, and those with damaged lungs or sinuses. Some doctors also consider it best for patients who have severe allergies.
Open Face Mask: An open face mask, also known as an open-faced mask, allows the wearer to breathe without restriction. Because of this, they are commonly used to treat people with bronchial infections. Closed breathing through a plastic bag also provides continuous airflow. Such masks, however, are not suited for patients with breathing problems due to nasal congestion or recurring sinus infections. Plastic bags also carry bacteria, which can cause infections in the nose and throat.
Nasal Sponge: Nasal sponges are small plastic bags that have tiny holes where they can be inserted into the nose. They allow for good air circulation, prevent dust particles and airborne germs from entering the breathing system, and clean the air. Plastic sponges are frequently used in cleaning the nasal cavities after taking a cold or flu medicine. They prevent contamination of the nose and mouth when food gets stuck between the fingers or when coughing. Some sponges have small suction ports that allow the doctor to clean the infected area easily. They are used most commonly in treating colds and the flu.