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Masks on: experiences of adults with asthma during COVID-19

Published: November 13, 2021

Mask wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic was strongly encouraged and even mandated in certain settings such as public transportation and healthcare facilities. Wearing a mask reduces the spread of respiratory droplets from one person to another and decreases chances that the person wearing the mask will inhale respiratory droplets. However, little is known about the experiences that adults with asthma have while wearing a mask. In a survey published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Polivka et al. explored how often adults with asthma wore masks, their attitudes, beliefs, and experiences related to mask wearing, and their recommendations to others with asthma about mask wearing.

Over 500 adults with asthma completed an online survey between November 2020 and February 2021 that asked about the number of hours a day they wore a mask, the type of mask worn, problems experienced wearing a mask, and a standard measure of asthma control. In addition, participants could comment about their experiences wearing a mask and their recommendations to others.

Almost all survey respondents indicated that they always wore a mask in public places with most wearing a mask 3 or fewer hours per day. Cloth masks or surgical type masks were the most frequently used mask type. Common problems with wearing a mask included glasses fogging up, general discomfort, itchy nose, facial rash, anxiety, and wheezing. Respondents who reported more problems with mask wearing also reported wearing a mask longer during the day. Comfort, fit, and effectiveness of the mask were critical considerations when choosing a mask. The most common recommendation made by survey respondents regarding wearing a mask was “Just wear it”. Other recommendations included finding an area away from others to safely take a break from wearing the mask, making sure to take slow, deep breaths when wearing a mask, having an inhaler readily available, assuring appropriate distance from others, and staying at home to avoid potential exposure to others with COVID-19.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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