Can N95 masks with valves make breathing easier?

Masks are uncomfortable, but then they are a necessity, and thus, the development of masks with valves was done.

The coronavirus has led to the deadly disease of COVID-19. The way to protect oneself and stop the spread of disease until there is a vaccine for eradicating the virus is the use of sanitizers, face masks, social distancing, and self-isolation. It is required that we do not gather in large crowds or touch people like shaking hands with them, to stop the disease’s spread. It is only with the masks that one can step out for running the errands or even do grocery shopping. Wearing a mask for long hours makes it difficult to breathe and talk. However, there is no other option. For the general public, a face shield or cloth mask will be sufficient, but for the essential workers, doctors, nurses, and emergency responders, the need to wear an N95 mask is mandatory. NIOSH and WHO  have made it clear that they need to wear N95 masks as a preventive measure while in the medical centers and responding to the COVID-19 patients. 

When wearing a mask, it becomes difficult to breathe, and people find it difficult to talk. The filters in the mask to block the particles also block the free movement of air, making  it difficult to breathe. Therefore, as it is said, necessity is the mother of invention, and therefore, an N95 mask with a valve was invented. The N95 mask with a valve allows swift and smooth movement of air. The mask works to avoid moisture deposit on the mask’s inner lining by allowing instant movement of exhaled air. However, before you invest in an N95 mask with a valve, there are few details about the same that you should know. 

What are N95 masks?

The N95 masks are considered very efficient in blockage a wide variety of germs, droplets, splashes, sprays, and liquid that could carry germs. The N95 respirators efficiently blocked about 95% of the contaminants above the range of 0.3 microns. However, they make it difficult to breathe at the same time. 

Is the valve of an N95 mask washable?

The washability of the valve primarily depends on the type of the mask. Some valves require to be dusted or wiped, while some need to be washed without removing the filter. The manufacturer’s instruction is there on the packaging, and accordingly, the washing task is performed.

How long can one wear an N95 mask?

Most of the N95 masks are single-use masks like the surgical masks. The N95 masks with valves are reusable and can be worn for a long time. The pollutants to which one is exposed, the layers of filtration used, type of filter used that decide when to discard the masks. Till the original texture of the mask is retained, it is good to use.

Which is a better option, N95 or N99 face masks?

The numbers denoted with N specifies the percentage of filtration that the masks provide. Undoubtedly, N99 has better filtration than N95, but then N95 is more comfortable as there is lesser air resistance. 

The World Health Organizations and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have included the use of face masks in their recommendation to stop the spread of the virus. The CDC recommends cloth face masks for the public; on the other hand, surgical and N95 masks are recommended for the health care providers. However, using the correct mask and wearing it after a fit test is important to make the masks perform the tasks they intend to perform. The N95 masks with valves are a boon, but they have their limitations, which made it a bit unpopular in the medical fraternity. As per the finding of the experts and researchers studying the virus and trying to develop ways to protect people from it, they have a different saying for the valved N95 mask. 

An N95 mask with a valve filters the air inhaled by the wearer and makes it easier to breathe. However, the one-way valve works only to protect the person wearing it. It does not filter the aerosols coming out of the mouth of the wearer. It does not even protect the person around the wearer from the potential exposure to viruses that the water could exhale.

The N95 masks with valves or openings in the front are not safe and can propel the germs from the wearer to people around them. The one-way valve protects only the wearer. It will give a sense of security to the people around them. Thus, it's evident that N95 masks are the best option, but then one-way valved N95 masks do not serve the intended purpose of stopping the virus’s spread. The complete study on valved N95 masks is done, keeping in mind the safety of medical experts and people around them. The N95 face covers with valves can be easily used to replace cloth masks for the general public. The valved N95 masks filter out 95% of particles, and it is easier to breathe in them; thus, the common masses can use them. It is a better option for the common masses. In place of cloth masks, they can use these masks. It will be easier to breathe, get safety from viruses or any germ, and yet it is easier to breathe in valved N95 masks. 

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