Disposable Face Masks – Do They Protect You?
A surgical face mask, more commonly known as an endoscopic surgical face mask, is designed for use by medical professionals during surgical procedures. Endoscopy is the procedure in which a small camera inside the mask films a patient’s face as the surgeon moves inside the mask. Surgical masks used during endoscopy are designed to prevent infections by capturing bacteria shed by the patient’s mouth and nose and dropping into the draining tube below. The drainage tube carries liquids, such as blood, fluid used during the procedure, and waste material away from the area where the surgery has been performed. Endoscopy is a highly specialized form of surgery; therefore, only highly trained medical professionals should wear endoscopes.
During a normal visit to the eye doctor, patients may see the doctor place tiny plastic tubes under their nose and chin so that the tubes can drain if there happens to be a break in the breathing process. Another similar device is the mouth guard, which is strapped around the head just above the eyes. These devices are meant to keep the teeth at a proper angle so that they will not obstruct the flow of air. The mouth guard and the nose clip often fail to keep bacteria from being shed and entering the respiratory system. Bacterial escape products are released into the air when these items are improperly fitted. The nose clips, however, are one of the most common reasons why people who use nasal masks develop infections.
The disposable face masks, or airtight masks work best for those who are prone to infections. The airtight fit inside the mask traps the bacteria inside, preventing them from escaping out through the nasal opening. The use of disposable masks works best in hospitals where the number of patients using the same restroom is minimal. A hospital that performs more than ten surgeries every month should have disposable face masks available to its staff. Airports and doctor’s offices can also purchase disposable face masks from manufacturers that supply these items to the medical industry. The disposable variety of face masks are made out of either plastic or silicone and are very affordable.
Some doctors feel that it is important to wear a face mask when a patient is sick. According to a survey conducted by the American Society for Health Forecasting, nearly three-quarters of health care professionals recommend the wearing of a face mask during sick leave. Among those who wear a face mask while working, respondents were almost twice as likely as non-wearing individuals to feel they were doing their job well. Additionally, it was found that those working in fields with little or no air movement were more likely to feel they were doing their jobs poorly than those who could freely talk. Wearing a face mask while sick seems like an easy solution, yet research has shown that it is not.
The Department of Labor says that many of the people who work in public places where they are exposed to particles of dust, debris, chemicals, smoke or fumes do not follow safe practices. In fact, workers in these places are more prone to sickness than their counterparts in other fields. One study showed that people working in factories with as little as two milligrams of dust per square meter were ten times more susceptible to lung disease than workers in other industries. Workers in government buildings were also more susceptible to illness; they wore face masks but still had higher rates of illness than those in other public places. It seems that the danger of working in places that expose us to dust, chemicals and gases is not greatly reduced by wearing a face mask.
Another study by the American Society for Health Forecasting that was performed in healthcare settings showed that there is no safe level of exposure to dust, chemicals or fumes. There are many other types of illnesses that could be prevented by simply wearing a face mask. The only safe option is not to wear face masks when you are working, but if you are in a healthcare setting, you absolutely must. The simple solution of purchasing a disposable face mask for use during sick days is not cost effective and does not make sense, it saves lives.