Face Coverings and COVID-19. What People With Asthma Need To Know.

We all need to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. And doctors agree that wearing a covering over our mouth and nose works to prevent transmission of the virus.

Most people with asthma have no problem wearing a face covering. But others are having difficulty, and a small number say that masks may trigger their asthma symptoms. If you’re one of those people, what can you do to protect yourself and others?

The Quick Take

Nobody really likes wearing a face mask or covering. But it’s the right thing to do and is one of our best defenses against COVID-19. If you have trouble wearing a face covering:

  1. Try a different style.
    Switching from a surgical mask to a bandana, homemade mask or neck gaiter might help. Or try making a fashion statement with your face covering.
  2. Keep social distancing.
    Do your best to stay
    at least six feet away from people that you don’t live with. And wash your hands regularly!

Want to know more? Read on…

Why do face coverings work?

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can exist in the microscopic moisture particles that are released when we breathe. (These particles are why you can ”see your breath” in the cold or why you fog up a mirror by breathing on it.) 

Evidence shows that any mask, even a simple cloth mask like a bandana, reduces the number or particles that can escape from the nose and mouth of an infected person and decreases the distance the virus can travel. Masks can also help healthy people from breathing in the virus. 

GRAPHIC: V. ALTOUNIAN/SCIENCE

What if asthma makes wearing a face covering difficult?

For starters, talk to your healthcare provider. The American Academy of Asthma & Immunology recommends:

 “If you feel like you can’t wear a face covering because of your allergies or asthma, please take the time to discuss this with your allergy/asthma specialist. Perhaps some modification of your rhinitis and asthma treatment is necessary. If your asthma is bad enough that you can’t wear a face covering, perhaps it is best that you stay at home and avoid exposures that could make it worse.”

But if you need to go out? This article from CreakyJoints has some smart, practical advice, like:

  • Check the weather
    Many people find it harder to breathe when it’s hot and humid.
  • Practice at home
    “Most people find that it takes a few days to adjust to wearing a mask and for those with pulmonary issues like asthma or COPD the accommodation period can be longer…” 
  • Make it quick
    If you have to go to a grocery store or pharmacy, put on your mask, grab what you need, and get out.

Read more…

Here’s more:

What People With Asthma Need to Know About Face Masks and Coverings During the COVID-19 Pandemic by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Find answers to questions like, “Should People With Asthma Wear Face Coverings or Masks?” and “What Can I Do If My Job Requires Me to Wear a Face Covering or Mask?”

Have Difficulty Breathing in a Face Mask? Advice for People with Asthma and Lung Disease by CreakyBones. They can help you “stay safe when wearing a mask feels unbearable.”

Do Your Part to Slow The Spread of COVID-19: Wear a Face Covering or Mask by The American Academy of Asthma & Immunology. Good information for people with asthma and dispels some common myths about face masks.

Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 by the CDC. Learn why and how to wear a mask and learn to make one, with or without sewing.


If you have questions about your health or you’re not feeling well, contact your healthcare provider by phone or visit their website to determine whether you should be seen in-person.

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