Right now, we’re facing an invisible threat that has already caused a lot of problems around the world. The coronavirus pandemic is caused by a new type of virus that was previously unknown to us, and the ways it affects our bodies are still to be determined. However, we do know it affects some people more than others, and these are the groups of people that need to be protected the most.
Among these people we can find older people, those with cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, or obesity, as well as immunocompromised individuals. The immune system is key in the way we fight off microorganisms like the coronavirus, and those with a compromised one need special protection. Today, we’ll explain why N95 masks are considered the best respirators for these people.
What is an immunocompromised individual?
We would like to start this informative piece by explaining what an immunocompromised patient entails. The immune system is the group of cells and organs in our body that have the ability to fight off anything that is foreign and potentially harmful to our bodies. When one of these particles or pathogens enter our bodies, the immune system gets activated and, in the majority of the cases, can eliminate the threat.
People with a compromised immune system are those that, for some reason or another, have a very weak defense system, and get sick very easily from pathogens that our bodies could typically fight off. There are a wide number of reasons why an individual could be immunocompromised, but among the most common ones we can mention:
- Cancer patients, especially those in chemotherapy
- Any type of organ transplant, including bone marrow transplant
- Genetic immune deficiencies
- HIV patients
- People in oral or intravenous corticosteroids treatment
COVID-19 and immunity
COVID-19 is a new viral disease that was first reported in December of last year, with the first case being in Wuhan, China. From what we know so far, this new virus is a species of coronavirus, a genus of viruses that have been known to cause respiratory infections in humans that are usually very mild. However, this new virus doesn’t seem to follow the same pattern.
The name given to this virus is SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), and in the majority of the cases, it does cause very mild flu-like symptoms, with most cases even being asymptomatic. But, as we mentioned, there’s a group of people that are at higher risk of developing a more severe form of the disease. Among this group of people, we find, of course, immunocompromised patients.
In these people, the virus can extremely affect the lungs, leading to the need for mechanical ventilation, and the virus can even affect other organs as well. People can develop serious complications, like lung, heart, or kidney failure, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and even multi-organ failure.
Although the number of cases that develop this severe form of COVID-19 is relatively small, when there are too many cases and people getting infected at once, the number becomes more concerning. This, ultimately, leads to the collapse of the healthcare system, with overwhelming medical centers, and shortages of medical supplies, like we have seen already in the United States.
This is why stopping the spread of the virus is so important, because for immunocompromised individuals, along with the other high-risk populations, the virus can be deadly. As this is a virus that spreads through respiratory secretions, the best way to prevent the spreading of it is by wearing face masks.
N95 masks for immunocompromised patients: why are they the best option?
N95 masks have been considered to be the best type of face mask for virus protection. This disposable face mask, unlike surgical or medical face masks, have great antiviral properties that make it protect more against several harmful particles. These masks are also called respirators, and they are a part of the USA’s classification for respirators.
Every country has a rating system and classification for respirators, and in the USA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the institution in charge of this. They classify and name respirators according to two characteristics:
- Resistance to oil: indicated by the letter N, R, or P, for not resistant, resistant, and oil-proof, respectively.
- Minimum particulate filtration efficacy: a percentage, which can be either 95, 99, or 100%.
According to this classification, the term N95 refers to any type of respirator that can filter out at least 95% of all non-oil based airborne particles. This makes N95 masks effective for protection against dust, smoke, and viruses like the flu or the coronavirus. Some of the most popular N95 masks include 3M N95 masks, like the 3M 8210 and 3M 8511.
Even though N95 masks are in theory the best option for immunocompromised patients, these are respirators that need to be prioritized for healthcare workers and first responders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t recommend the general public to use N95 masks, and instead has several recommendations for immunocompromised patients.
To protect our most vulnerable citizens, it’s everyone’s responsibility to stay protected at all times in public settings. Whether it’s a reusable cloth mask, a face shield, KN95 masks, or a disposable face mask, anyone who uses face coverings is protecting their communities. You can buy them online in bulk or wholesale, with lots of reliable options for sale.