Humidity from masks may reduce COVID-19 severity, suggest researchers |
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Humidity from masks may reduce COVID-19 severity, suggest researchers
Dr KK Aggarwal,  21 February 2021
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1.    NationalInstitutes of Health state that humidity inside a face mask may help fightrespiratory diseases, like COVID-19.

2.     Researchers at the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestiveand Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) conducted a study which revealed that face masks considerablyincrease the humidity in the air that the wearer inhales. The increasedhumidity in inhaled air could account for the link between mask wearing and lowerdisease severity in those with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Hydration of therespiratory tract appears to benefit the immune system. The findings have beenpublished in the Biophysical Journal.

3.     Lead author, Adriaan Bax stated that face masks were found to enhancethe humidity in inhaled air and suggested that the hydration of the respiratorytract could explain the association between lower COVID-19 disease severity andwearing a mask. He added that high levels of humidity lessen the severity offlu, and the same may hold true for severity of COVID-19.

4.     Increased levels of humidity tend to restrict the spread of avirus to the lungs through promotion of mucociliary clearance (MCC).

5.    High levels of humidity also tend to strengthen the immune system viathe production of interferons that fight against viruses. Low levels ofhumidity appear to impair MCC as well as the interferon response. As a result,there are higher odds of getting respiratory infections in cold weather.

6.     Four types of masks were assessed - N95 mask, three-ply disposablesurgical mask, two-ply cotton-polyester mask, and heavy cotton mask.

7.    All the masks appeared to heighten the level of humidity of inhaled airto varying degrees. At lower temperatures, the humidifying effects of all masksincreased considerably. At all temperatures, thick cotton mask was tied to themost increased level of humidity.


Dr KK Aggarwal

President CMAAO, HCFI and Past NationalPresident IMA

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