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The #1 Health Concern of Wearing a Mask Too Long

Medical study reveals a real downside to long-term mask wearing.
man with eyeglasses wearing hygienic mask feeling headache

Can the wearing of a protective N95 mask all day long be too much of a good thing?  Yes, according to a medical report from the mid 2,000's which finds that the long-term wearing of a protective medical mask can lead to prolonged headaches.

The study came from the Department of Medicine at the National University Hospital, Singapore, and the findings were based on a 2003 epidemic of severe acute respiratory distress syndrome, in which healthcare workers mandatorily wore the protective N95 face-mask. Simply put, the study concluded that healthcare providers may develop headaches following the use of the N95 face-mask. Shorter duration of face-mask wear may reduce the frequency and severity of these headaches.

Protective masks have never played a bigger part in public health than they currently play during the coronavirus pandemic. Guidelines from the White House coronavirus task force has strongly encouraged public mask-wearing while also encouraging social distancing. But like many issues in today's hyper-partisan world, wearing masks has become something of a political football.

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There are reports that wearing masks long term can actually present health risks, but respected online fact-checker determined that to be "mostly false." Snopes made clear that what is true about reports? Some have suggested that increased carbon dioxide from wearing masks is unhealthy.  "Breathing in excessive carbon dioxide is dangerous for the body. Some people with preexisting respiratory illnesses may face health issues only with prolonged use of tight-fitting masks, such as respirators," Snope reported being true. What's false, however, is that "people wearing cloth or surgical masks are in little to no danger of breathing in unhealthy amounts of carbon dioxide."

So while breathing an excess of carbon dioxide is not good for you, wearing a mask will not lead to a dangerous level of CO2 inhalation. The biggest health concern, according to reputable doctors, is an increased chance of headaches.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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