COVID-19 Masks for COPD

In a COPD support group I belong to, we had a very good discussion the other day about wearing surgical masks during the pandemic. We’re all surprised about what a political issue it had become and were bewildered as to why so many people seemed so dead against wearing one – that it was an imposition on their freedom of choice.

Masks and COPD

I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think wearing a mask when you can shows respect and concern for your fellow human beings! We also discussed was how difficult it was wearing a mask if you have COPD as we do.1 In my case, it certainly does. Even with my cannula in my nose right below it. The difference, I think, is when we’re not wearing a mask and using the cannula, we still get the benefit of breathing oxygen through our nose.

As I and many others understand it, COPD can cause air to get trapped in the lungs, among other things, making it difficult to breathe, and can cause wheezing.
So, the addition of a mask makes it that much more difficult."Although they (masks) might be difficult for anybody to breathe through, it's really about protecting other people," said Dr. Lazarus Gehring with Endwell Family Physicians.2

Where does it leave us?

So where does a mask mandate leave people like us with COPD? Doctors say there are a few options for face coverings that may be easier to breathe through. I think the wisest advice I’ve gotten about what to do these days is to stay indoors as much as possible to reduce your own risk of exposure to COVID-19. If you do have to go out in public, doctors say when everyone wears a mask, we are all working to protect each other.

The views of a friend

A friend of mine, Kiana Belcher, recently wrote on Facebook:

When I wear a mask in public:

  • I want you to know that I am educated enough to know that I could be asymptomatic and still give you the virus.
  • No, I don’t “live in fear” of the virus; I just want to be part of the solution, not the problem.
  • I don’t feel like the “government is controlling me;” I feel like I’m being a contributing adult to society and I want to teach others the same.
  • The world doesn’t revolve around me. It’s not all about me and my comfort.
  • If we all could live with other people's consideration in mind, this whole world would be a much better place.
  • Wearing a mask doesn’t make me weak, scared, stupid, or even “controlled.” It makes me considerate.
  • When you think about how you look, how uncomfortable it is, or what others think of you, just imagine someone close to you - a child, a father, a mother, grandparent, aunt, or uncle - gasping for breath, choking on a respirator alone without you or any family member allowed at their bedside.
  • Ask yourself if you could have at least done it for them.

I think all the sentiments Kiana writes about are ones that I share. And I sincerely hope that choosing to use or not to use quickly ends as a political argument.

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