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While the threat of being infected by Covid-19 is very much prevalent, the world is slowly unlocking, and opening up to the prospects of work, leisure, and travel. Public places are now allowing people for visitations, and wearing a face mask is a unanimous mandate.
Face masks are pivotal in saving lives against the deadly coronavirus outbreak. However, there has been a rise in complaints against adverse effects of wearing a face mask for long durations. People are complaining of headache, discomfort, dehydration, and disorientation. Another factor which adds to the discomfort when wearing a mask for long durations, is the recent increase in the number of hours being spent outside the home, be it for work or recreation.
To understand the importance of wearing a face mask and its impact on being worn for long durations, we spoke to Dr Vineeta Taneja, Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi.
There is no doubt that wearing a mask has reduced the load of infection during the pandemic, said Dr Taneja. However, she agrees that reports are coming in that suggest wearing a face mask for long durations can cause headache, breathing difficulties for people with cold, cough, and asthma, skin rashes and allergies.
The expert highlights that when complying with public health measures, one has to weigh the pros and cons to balance the risk of being unwell against personal discomfort.
Covid-19 has taken a lot of lives and is a serious matter, noted Dr Taneja. She said, “If we understand the advantages of wearing a face mask, you will find that the benefits are so much greater than the discomfort felt.”
She further remarked that our public health experts are sure that it would probably be safe to remove the mask in another 2 to 3 months. In the meanwhile, she recommended wearing a face mask, even if one has to struggle with minimal side effects like headache, dehydration, cough and cold. As per the current scenario, she added, one can take small breaks during the course of the day to remove the face mask in open spaces with no one around and recommends to keep yourself hydrated.
Removing the face mask is not recommended as the side effects are relatively trivial to the impact Covid-19 can have on one’s health.
She concluded by saying that pros and cons go in favour of wearing a mask, at least till the vaccination rates have not gone up, and the risk of 2nd and 3rd wave has not subsided.