Humidity from masks may reduce COVID-19 severity, suggest researchers



New Delhi, February 21, 2021 :

1.    National Institutes of Health state that humidity inside a face mask may help fight respiratory diseases, like COVID-19.

2.     Researchers at the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) conducted a study which revealed that face masks considerably increase the humidity in the air that the wearer inhales. The increased humidity in inhaled air could account for the link between mask wearing and lower disease severity in those with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Hydration of the respiratory tract appears to benefit the immune system. The findings have been published in the Biophysical Journal.

3.     Lead author, Adriaan Bax stated that face masks were found to enhance the humidity in inhaled air and suggested that the hydration of the respiratory tract could explain the association between lower COVID-19 disease severity and wearing a mask. He added that high levels of humidity lessen the severity offlu, and the same may hold true for severity of COVID-19.

4.     Increased levels of humidity tend to restrict the spread of a virus to the lungs through promotion of mucociliary clearance (MCC).

5.    High levels of humidity also tend to strengthen the immune system via the production of interferons that fight against viruses. Low levels of humidity appear to impair MCC as well as the interferon response. As a result, there are higher odds of getting respiratory infections in cold weather.

6.     Four types of masks were assessed – N95 mask, three-ply disposable surgical mask, two-ply cotton-polyester mask, and heavy cotton mask.

7.    All the masks appeared to heighten the level of humidity of inhaled air to varying degrees. At lower temperatures, the humidifying effects of all masks increased considerably. At all temperatures, thick cotton mask was tied to the most increased level of humidity.


Author : Dr KK Aggarwal , President CMAAO, HCFI and Past NationalPresident IMA


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