Will masks prevent flu?
As we head into flu season and deal with other viruses such as the common cold and COVID-19, you may be wondering if masks will help. The answer is yes.
Dr. Bela Desai, internal medicine specialist at the Advocate Outpatient Center in Des Plaines, Illinois, said masks can help prevent flu this season because they prevent the spread of flu virus.
To understand how the flu works, flu viruses spread mainly through droplets emitted. When someone with the flu speaks, coughs or sneezes, flu can spread. Wearing a mask can help keep your mouth and nose covered and the droplets contained.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best masks follow these guidelines:
- Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
- Completely cover your nose and mouth
- Fit snugly against the sides of your face without gaps
- Have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out at the top of the mask.
For more mask tips, check out these 6 mask myths debunked.
“Wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth and nose and clean frequently used surfaces regularly,” Dr. Desai added, for ways to stay healthy this cold, flu and COVID-19 season.
She also recommended continuing to wear masks this season, so we avoid having a bad flu season.
With many viruses and bugs in the air, it can be tricky to know what you’re facing, she said. If you or your child is sick and not sure what the cause is, you can find care and peace of mind with a video visit, Dr. Desai suggested.
The single best way to reduce the risk of seasonal flu is to get vaccinated, according to the CDC. Masks will continue to prevent the spread. Other good health habits including avoiding people who are sick, covering any coughs and washing hands.
If you are interested in receiving a flu shot, these can also be scheduled in LiveWell, online or with your primary care provider.
About the Author
Anna Schapiro is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a background in public relations and communications and studied journalism at Northwestern University. When she’s not working on internal communications for the organization, she enjoys cooking, reading and living in Chicago.