Mask wearing proves double duty amid allergy season, study shows

Health

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Mask wearing may be proving double duty as allergy season kicks into full swing, one study suggests.

The study revealed that mask usage can significantly reduce allergic symptoms in individuals who suffer from seasonal spring allergies including pollen, fungal spores and house-dust mites feces.

“People with allergic rhinitis go outside during a seasonal spike in air-born allergens are benefited from the mask as well as long as they wear it properly and keep their mouth and nose covered during the exposure,” said Lead author, Dr. Amiel Dror from the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Galilee Medical Center; The Azrieli Faculty of Medicine, Bar-Ilan University.

In the self-reported survey, over 1,800 Israeli nurses were asked to track their allergy symptoms over the course of two weeks during the early spring in Israel where seasonal allergens are commonplace.

The data revealed significantly reduced symptoms in nurses wearing a surgical mask or an N95 respirator as compared with no mask.

Dr. Dror rationalized the evidence pointing out that face masks were designed for reducing the transmission of airborne illnesses such as COVID-19.

“Most of the known allergens are between 80 to 800 times bigger than viral pathogens,” adds Dr. Dror. “Therefore, it is no surprise that face masks recommended for protection against viral droplets will be effective barriers against airborne allergens.”

For those hesitant of seasonal allergy medication, masks may offer another option.

“Our study shows that people with seasonal allergic rhinitis benefit from face mask usage due to nasal symptoms reduction,” said Dr. Dror.

However, it’s important to note that the data measurement took place during the coronavirus pandemic which included lockdowns potentially contributing to the decreases in allergic symptoms.

It’s also important to distinguish the difference between spring allergies and the coronavirus.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are a few telltale signs that you are not suffering from allergies.

“With Coronavirus symptoms, very frequently they’ll come on with fevers,” said Dr. Sandra Hong. “If you have a fever, it’s not going to be allergies. If you have diarrhea, that’s also not allergies. That’s something completely different.”

Hong says there’s another good way to decipher between the two. To learn more, click here.

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