How effective are masks?

Explained by Calgary Doctors at Revolution Medical Clinic

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When COVID-19 began to emerge at the tail-end of 2019, wearing masks were recommended in certain settings, but not all. But the months have passed, and now face coverings are everywhere!

What changed?

As cases continued to rise, it became evident that creating a barrier covering the nose and mouth could help prevent respiratory droplets from entering into the air, reducing the spread of COVID-19. Creating a barrier to protect others from inhaling the droplets released from coughs, sneezes or speaking is known as source control. Source control is especially important in environments where maintaining six feet of distance from others is difficult, such as on public transit, work spaces and in personal care establishments.

The World Health Organization offers a series of videos educating the public on who should wear a mask, when they should wear one and effective ways to put them on. Click here if you would like to be directed to that page.

Should everyone be wearing a mask?

Although evidence continues to emerge recommending masks to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets, there are individuals who should avoid wearing them.

Those who should not wear a mask are:

  • Children under the age of 2 years
  • Individuals with breathing troubles
  • Individuals who are unable to remove the mask without assistance¬†

Masks can also present difficulties for those with hearing difficulties or have intellectual or developmental disabilities. The CDC recommends consulting your healthcare providers for advice if you have any questions or concerns regarding masks.

Studies and further reading

There is ample research available online that explores the efficacy of recommendations made to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Handwashing, physical distancing and masks are often promoted as key factors in reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses. 

The CDC offers a list of recent studies conducted all over the world. From surgical masks to homemade ones, they present evidence that wearing a facial covering is an effective way to limit respiratory droplets from being released into the air.

One systematic review and meta-analysis published in June explored 172 observational studies across 16 countries and six continents, and the findings were consistent with the recommendations set forth by health officials. It was reported that face mask use could result in a large reduction in risk of infection and went on to compare the efficacy of N95 along with disposable surgical masks and similar alternatives.

Should I wear a mask? Calgary doctors at Revolution Medical Clinic weigh in

As further research continues to emerge, it is clear that certain interventions are effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Wearing a mask is an easy and affordable way to protect those around you from respiratory illness.

Because some individuals are unable to wear facial coverings, we recommend wearing one for those who safely can. This practice can help protect vulnerable members of the public, especially in environments where 6 feet of social distancing cannot be achieved.

However, we understand that you may be unsure whether or not wearing a mask is right for you and your personal health needs. We always recommend seeking the advice of a healthcare professional when searching for answers to your unique health concerns.

Questions? Concerns? Our team of healthcare professionals are here to help.

Navigating the new and emerging research surrounding COVID-19 can be overwhelming and confusing. Our team at our walk-in clinics in Royal Oak, Acadia (Meadows Mile Professional Building), and High River are here to answer your COVID-19 related questions.

All our clinics are accepting new patients and are ready to clear up any confusion or concerns you may have about social distancing and the role it plays in keeping our community safe.

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