With the weather changing, experts are offering new guidance on face masks for people with respiratory conditions. Asthma U.K. warns that asthma patients should not wear one if they find it makes it more difficult for them to breathe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also says there can be exceptions to wearing masks, but people with severe or moderate asthma may also be at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. So, it could be a tough call.
“For people with very mild asthma or well controlled asthma, it's probably not going to be an issue,” said Dr. David Stukus, and advisor with the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America. “For people who have very severe disease and have frequent exacerbations, ER visits, hospitalizations, require lots of medications and frequent symptoms, it might cause more issues for those folks.”
Stukus points out that weather changes and pollen can be major triggers, so some asthma patients might already wear masks this time of year. For others, it may just take some getting used to.
Masks can be vital to reducing virus spread in crowded, indoor places like grocery stores or doctor's offices, but if you're out walking on a remote trail, masks may not be necessary.
People with asthma can also limit triggers by getting outside earlier in the morning or in the evening when it's not so hot.
“These are some modifications that people with asthma are used to doing,” said Stukus. “They've done them for as long as they've had asthma. They just sort of naturally will go about that. So, I think it's just important to keep it at the forefront.”
If you have asthma and have questions about wearing masks, it's important to ask your personal physician. Stukus says while advice from major health organizations is helpful, it isn't necessarily tailored for you.