With spring comes beautiful flowers, trips to Fairmount Park with family, thunderstorms that light up the sky and, unfortunately, seasonal allergies. The good news is, there are simple ways to reduce symptoms, and you’re already doing one of them: wearing a face mask. One study shows that wearing face masks can protect you from exposure to allergens.
What the Research Shows
Wearing a face mask can reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies, reports a study published in the November-December 2020 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunotherapy.
Researchers surveyed 1,824 nurses in the Israeli medical system who worked in respiratory wards or who had direct contact with COVID-19 patients. They began collecting data in April 2020, the start of the pandemic and last year’s allergy season.
Most of the nurses surveyed reported wearing two masks, both an N95 and a surgical mask. Some reported wearing only one. Of the total number, 301 suffered from seasonal allergies.
Results of the Study
Most of the nurses with allergies reported that they experienced fewer and less severe symptoms after masking up. The amount of relief they experience depended on what type and how many masks they wore.
- Nurses who wore two masks had a decrease in mild to severe allergy symptoms.
- Nurses who wore an N95 mask alone had a decrease in severe symptoms but still had mild symptoms.
- Nurses who wore just a surgical mask had a decrease in mild symptoms but still had severe symptoms.
- All nurses still experienced itchy, watery eyes, which makes sense because the eyes are left uncovered and exposed to allergens.
The takeaway from this study is that any mask that has been approved to protect against COVID-19 can be helpful in preventing allergy symptoms to some degree.
Why Masks Provide Relief
The type of allergens you’re exposed to and react to can help you determine what kind of mask can best help prevent symptoms. Most environmental allergens are larger particles than germs like bacteria and viruses, meaning a surgical mask can provide relief. However, some allergens, like smoke, are filtered better by N95s.
While face masks won’t be a part of our lives forever, allergies will be. For long-term protection against allergens, talk to the experts at Pinnacle ENT Associates about immunotherapy. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call today.