Is it safe for people with asthma to wear a face mask?

Many asthmatics have questioned whether or not wearing a mask is safe. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), there is no proof that wearing a face mask can make your asthma worse. Wearing a mask does not reduce a person’s oxygen supply or cause a build-up of carbon dioxide. You may have read stories that say it can, but this isn’t true.

In fact, a study published by the University of Michigan in February 2021, found that mask use did not decrease oxygen saturation (SpO2) levels in patients with or without asthma, regardless of the type of mask worn. Neither duration of mask use nor perceived asthma control correlated with a decreased SpO2 level.

“This data reinforces that wearing a mask, whether it is a surgical mask, fabric mask or N95, is completely safe,” says study author and certified allergist Alan Baptist, MD. “This is true for all individuals whether they have a diagnosis of asthma or not. Wearing a mask is an essential step we can all take to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

An unintended benefit for asthma patients wearing a mask is that it can help cut down breathing in pollen - which could trigger asthma. However, if you feel uncomfortable wearing a mask due to severe asthma, it may be best for you to stay home and avoid public places as much as possible. If you must go out, practice social distancing. Being in public without a face mask may increase your chances of getting COVID-19 or passing it on to others.