PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Many people have questions about how to properly wear masks. KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen asked the chief of infectious diseases at UPMC St. Margaret Hospital, Dr. Raymond E. Pontzer.
Here is their edited conversation.
Kristine Sorensen: Dr. Ray Pontzer, I saw a lot of people wearing masks below their nose with their nose exposed. Is that defeating the purpose of wearing a mask?
Dr. Ray Pontzer: It does defeat the purpose. It’s good to cover the nose and the mouth. The droplets come out of the nose and they come out of the mouth. Actually, when we sample patients to determine if they’re infected, we go into the nose to look for the virus. It’s in very high numbers in the nose, and certainly, it can be infected that way, so I would highly recommend that people cover both nose and mouth when wearing a mask to effectively prevent transmission.
Sorensen: Whether people are in the heat outside or even inside, wearing a mask can sometimes make you feel hot. Why is that?
Dr. Pontzer: When you breathe into your lungs, air gets warmed up, and when you exhale and let that flow out, it kind of gets a little bit trapped behind the mask and that’s warm humid air that gets warmed and humidified in the lungs, so that’s why it feels that way.
Sorensen: I’ve heard people say that they feel faint or lightheaded when they’re wearing a mask. Why might that happen?
Dr. Pontzer: I’m not so sure from a medical standpoint, why that might happen, but it is kind of confining, and people can feel a little bit unstable, a little bit dizzy just being confined by a mask. So that is a difficulty for some people. I think in that case, there are some masks that are more rigid and stick out from the face, and that might be a little better and may help with the warmth and heat. They might try different kinds of masks to see which fit them the best.