Wearing a Mask Does Not Affect Oxygen Saturation in Patients With or Without Asthma

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According to research scheduled for presentation at the 2021 AAAAI Virtual Annual Meeting, which takes place February 26-March 1, wearing a mask can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and does not impact oxygen saturation.

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"I hope this latest data will deliver peace of mind to individuals who are worried that wearing a mask may be dangerous, especially for those individuals who have asthma.” - Alan P. Baptist, MD, MPH, FAAAAI

Research that will be presented at the 2021 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) Virtual Annual Meeting found that wearing a mask, which helps to slow the spread of COVID-19, does not impact the oxygen saturation of the wearer, regardless of if the individual has asthma or not.

While the abstract of this research was included in an online supplement to The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology that was published February 1, the full poster (#L18) will be presented at the 2021 AAAAI Virtual Annual Meeting.

Researchers requested that patients at the Michigan Medicine Allergy Clinic from September 10-October 23, 2020, complete a survey which covered asthma diagnosis, their perceived control of asthma, and the type of mask that was worn. During the appointment a pulse oximetry reading was performed on patients while they were wearing their mask. Patients also were asked to report how long a mask was worn before the measurement was taken.

A total of 223 surveys were reviewed. Oxygen saturation (SpO2) ranged between 93-100%, with an average of 98%, for those with asthma. The range was 93-100%, with an average of 98%, for those without asthma. There were no significant differences in measurements when it came to gender, race, type of mask used, or the amount of time masks had been worn. For asthma patients who recorded their level of asthma control, similar SpO2 was measured in the well-controlled and not fully controlled groups.

“This data reinforces that wearing a mask, whether it is a surgical mask, cloth mask, or N95, is completely safe,” said author Alan P. Baptist, MD, MPH, FAAAAI, who performed the study along with colleagues Malika Gupta, MD, and Marisa Hodges, 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. I hope this latest data will deliver peace of mind to individuals who are worried that wearing a mask may be dangerous, especially for those individuals who have asthma.”

Visit aaaai.org to learn more about COVID-19 and visit annualmeeting.aaaai.org to learn more about the 2021 AAAAI Virtual Annual Meeting.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has over 7,000 members in the United States, Canada and 72 other countries. The AAAAI’s Find an Allergist/Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.

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