US researchers have found that mouth masks can weaken corona symptoms.
Mouth masks can protect ourselves and those around us from coronavirus infection. Now, a new study shows that covers offer another significant benefit.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health have gathered evidence that wearing a mask in the event of infection also helps mitigate COVID-19 symptoms. The study results were published in the Biophysical Journal.
The humidity of the mask supports immune response
Study authors indicated that the moisture generated inside a mask helps fight respiratory illness. Wearing a face mask increases the moisture content of the air you breathe.
The added humidity may explain how mask-wearing can lead to attenuated COVID-19 symptoms. Previous studies have shown that extra humidity improves the immune response in the airways.
“We found that respirators greatly increase the humidity in the inhaled air and propose that the resulting hydration of the airways may be responsible for the association between attenuated disease progression and mask wear,” lead study author Adriaan Bax said a news release.
“High humidity has been shown to attenuate the severity of influenza illness, and this may also apply to COVID-19 disease progression via a similar mechanism.”
Fewer viruses through humidity
More humidity helps the lungs in several ways. High humidity makes it harder for viruses to spread in the lungs by facilitating Mucociliary Clearance(MCC) – also called mucociliary clearance.
This is a defense response by the immune system that removes mucus and any harmful particles hiding in it.
Extra humidity also prompts the immune system to produce particular interferon-associated virus-fighting proteins.
Conversely, too little humidity can lead to an inadequate MCC/interferon response. Experts believe this is one of the main reasons people tend to develop respiratory infections in winter.
Cotton masks build up the most moisture.
In this study, the study authors tested four standard face mask options:
Three-layer disposable surgical masks.
Two-layer cotton-polyester masks
Dense cotton masks
For the study, subjects were required to breathe into a sealed steel box with and without an attached mask.
When participants did this without a face mask, the box quickly filled with water vapor, causing the humidity to rise rapidly.
However, when the same action was performed with a respirator, the humidity in the box decreased significantly.
This is because most of the water vapor remains in the mask, where it is eventually re-inhaled.
All four mask options tested increased the inhaled humidity, with thick cotton masks producing the highest humidity levels.
So the next time anyone complains about pent-up moisture under their mask, remember that it can benefit their lungs.
- source: k.at/picture: pixabay.com
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