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Do masks inhibit your breathing?

Masks Q and A
Masks Q and A
Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 7:54 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - We are hearing concerns from viewers that wearing a mask lowers your oxygen levels and impedes your ability to breathe.

We put it to the test, along with Dr. Justin Sandall. He’s an anesthesiologist with Ascension Via Christi.

Using a pulse oximetry device, we can determine the amount of oxygen in our blood. Dr. Sandall says the ideal level of oxygen is 94% to 100%.

Without a mask, our reporter Kristen Boxman and Dr. Sandall both read 99%.

After donning masks, that number dropped only slightly to 96% and 98%, but that decrease could have also been attributed to holding a conversation, even without wearing a mask.

So, should people be concerned about breathing in their own CO2 when wearing a mask?

“I understand where that concern comes from,” Dr. Sandall said. “But these masks, we wear all day every day in the operating room. Surgeons operate for 12, 14 hours during the day and they’re not passing out. They’re not having what we call CO2 narcosis. And that’s because there’s enough pores that allow for exhalation. you’re able to get air around the sides and wash out CO2.”

Dr. Sandall says the physical barrier is a good way to help reduce the spread of the virus.

“We do have more data now that’s come out, more observational studies and experimental studies saying we can decrease the large droplet transmission by using simple masks and surgical masks and that will likely decrease the transmission of infected particles and decrease the risk for the highest risk patients,” Dr. Sandall said.

He says the mask may be uncomfortable at first, but you will get used to it the more you wear it.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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