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Face Masks Won't Impede Your Breathing, Study Confirms

HealthDay News
by Robert Preidt
Updated: Mar 2nd 2021

new article illustration

TUESDAY, March 2, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Breathe easy, folks. A new study affirms that wearing a cloth or surgical face mask won't hamper your breathing.

Researchers in Ohio based that conclusion on tests of 50 adults (median age: 33), both with and without masks. Nearly one-third said they had a chronic health condition, such as asthma.

Volunteers' heart rate, oxygen levels and carbon dioxide levels were measured during six 10-minute tests: While sitting quietly and then walking briskly without a mask; while sitting quietly and then walking briskly while wearing a cloth mask; and while sitting quietly and then walking briskly while wearing a surgical mask.

None of the participants developed a low level of oxygen or a high level of carbon dioxide in the blood while resting or walking with a mask on.

The risk of developing significantly abnormal oxygen or carbon dioxide levels while masked is near zero for the general population, said principal investigator Dr. Steven Shein. He is division chief of pediatric critical care medicine at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, in Cleveland.

"We know face masks help to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but we also know people have concerns of discomfort or impaired breathing while wearing them," Shein said in a hospital news release.

"Our hope is these findings will reassure people that their body is able to adequately get oxygen in and carbon dioxide out while wearing a face covering," he added.

The report was published online Feb. 24 in the journal PLOS ONE.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on mask wearing.

SOURCE: University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, news release, Feb. 24, 2021