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Should you Use a Surgical Mask or Respirator?

A face mask or respirator is worn by caregivers and/or contagious patients. Depending on the kind of mask, it protects against the spread of infectious agents by droplet or airborne routes. It can prevent virus contamination like the coronavirus, depending on its standard and protection class.

Choosing a Surgical Mask or Respirator

Because there are many kinds of face masks that offer varying levels of protection, it is important to consider many criteria when choosing a face mask:

  • Patients and caregivers use a specific kind of mask with a certain level of protection, depending on the profession and the field of application.
  • The kind of mask. People can choose either a surgical mask or a respirator. Both differ in their functions, standards, and objectives. It is imperative to note that surgical masks only protect against infectious agents that can be transmitted through droplets. Meanwhile, a respirator protects against the inhalation of infectious agents that can be spread through airborne routes. Also, there are different classes of particulate respirators.
  • Disposable or reusable. Surgical masks are disposable while respirators can be reusable. With some respirators, the filter can be replaced when it is full.
  • Masks vary in their sizes which can be adjusted to the wearer’s morphology. Respirators can be equipped with an exhalation valve for improved user comfort. Also, some face masks may cover the eyes if the wearer requires eye protection.

Reasons to Wear a Surgical Mask

A medical or surgical mask is a disposable medical device that protects against infectious agents spread through droplets. Thus, it prevents the wearer from being contaminated by a virus. It prevents droplets of saliva or secretions from the upper respiratory tract if the wearer exhales. If the mask is worn by a caregiver, the mask protects the patient and their environment. A surgical mask also protects the wearer from the risk of splashes of biological fluids.

Why Wear a Respirator

A medical respirator mask is meant to be a personal protective equipment that works by preventing the wearer from inhaling aerosols and vapors or gases that are health hazards. Also, it protects the wearer from airborne infectious agents. One category of respirators is a filtering respirator.

A filtering respirator is composed of a facepiece and a filtering device. Depending on the kind of filter, the mask can be effective only against particles or against some gases and vapors. Sometimes, this respirator can be equipped with an exhalation device to prevent condensation inside the mask.

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