Facemask Safety for Oxygen Therapy Users

Do surgical masks protect against coronavirus

Below is an in-depth look into how wearing a face-mask may or may not provide adequate protection against COVID-19. In addition, the impact if you use oxygen therapy while wearing a mask. Also, what type of mask for coronavirus in the combination of oxygen therapy. How does this impact over age 60 seniors exposed to COVID-19?

If you use oxygen therapy, the new facemask guidelines due to the novel coronavirus may have you feeling concerned. Rest assured: There is a way to wear a facemask properly, even while receiving oxygen therapy, so you can spend time in public locations as safely as possible.



When and Why to Wear a Facemask in Public

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends wearing a cloth face covering when you are in public.[1] The novel coronavirus spreads primarily from person to person through droplets produced when someone speaks, coughs or sneezes and, while social distancing of six feet is the best way to ensure you don’t inhale these droplets, wearing a cloth mask also helps.[2]

There are two reasons for this recommendation: First, a cloth facemask creates a barrier to help stop you from spreading a virus you may not know you have. Second, it can provide some level of protection to you from others. The best possible level of protection comes from you wearing a mask and the people around you wearing a mask.

So when should you wear cloth facemask? The CDC recommends that people over the age of two wear cloth facemasks in public settings, particularly where proper social distancing may be hard to maintain.

This can include places like the grocery store, pharmacy, gas station or even to pick up takeout from a local restaurant. If you might encounter another person in close proximity, wear a mask.

While the CDC warns that people with breathing difficulties should be careful about wearing facemasks, many states and cities are requiring cloth facemasks if you’re in public.[2][3] That means that for a majority of people will need to get accustomed to wearing a facemask.

Thankfully, if worn properly, facemasks should not impede your breathing or your oxygen therapy.


6 Tips for Safely Wearing a Facemask During Oxygen Therapy

When you use oxygen therapy, wearing a facemask may be a little trickier, but it just takes practice. Your facemask should fit securely on your face, without getting in the way of your nasal cannula or your tubing. Below are some tips to help you make sure that your cloth facemask fits properly, stays on and doesn’t interfere with your oxygen therapy.

  1. Try several kinds of masks. There’s really no such thing as one-size-fits-all, so it’s helpful to try different styles of facemasks to see which fits you best and feels most comfortable. There are many designs available, so whether you buy a pre-made facemask or make your own, look for a breathable 100% cotton version that fits you well and feels secure.
  2. Practice wearing your facemask at home. Wearing a facemask is new to most of us, so it can take some time to get used to it. Practice wearing your facemask at home to get accustomed to putting it on, getting it comfortably secured and taking it off correctly. Practice talking and breathing with a facemask on so you can get used to the sensation. Wearing your facemask with your oxygen therapy while you do things at home will help you feel more comfortable with it once you’re out.
  3. Your facemask should cover your nose, mouth and chin without disrupting your nasal cannula. Your facemask should fit your face securely, without slipping down or feeling overly tight. It shouldn’t disrupt your breathing or press on your nasal cannula or oxygen tubing. The fit should be close, without gaping at the top, bottom or sides, but there should be enough room for your nasal cannula and tubing to fit inside comfortably.
  4. Find a mask with a bendable edge at the top.
    Many cloth facemasks are made with a bendable wire or other adjustable material to help you fit the mask close to your nose. This helps your facemask stay securely in place, but it can also help with comfort over your nasal cannula and reduce fogging on glasses. It’s important to get a secure, comfortable fit so you’re not tempted to adjust the mask when you’re out and about. Once you have your mask on, avoid touching it until you’ve thoroughly washed your hands.
  5. Remove your mask safely. Always wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before putting your mask on, adjusting it or taking it off. When you’re ready to remove your facemask, only touch the straps and remove them from behind your ears so you don’t touch your eyes, nose, mouth or cannula.
  6. Wash everything.
    Fold the outside mask corners in, then drop your facemask directly in the washing machine or hand wash by following the CDC’s instructions.[4][5] Wash your nasal cannula and tubing straightaway, too.

Wearing a facemask during oxygen therapy can take some getting used to, but with practice, you’ll learn how to wear your facemask comfortably and safely.

Author: Jen Coltrin is the Content and Marketing Manager at Inogen. Inogen’s mission is to educate oxygen users on how to navigate life with supplemental oxygen.

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