What are the masks for?

The masks are in fashion. There is nothing more than a ride in the Metro to see more and more people carrying them. It goes without saying that if we also do it in the Usera area or other locations where the Chinese population is concentrated, the phenomenon is much more evident. The sale of masks is growing exponentially and they are practically sold out in pharmacies The influencers, especially the Orientals, do not stop hanging photos and videos doing all kinds of eccentric activities to attract the attention of their followers.

The use of masks to prevent the spread of infectious diseases is not something so old. For this purpose were introduced in the field of surgery by Jan Mikulicz, about the year 1890. This Polish surgeon was a pioneer, among other things, of digestive tract surgery, being the first to suture a perforated gastric ulcer. However, they were not made mandatory for use in the operating room until 1926. Before this date, patients were operated without a mask.

Its use was based on the discovery of the existence of micro droplets suspended in the air that contained contagious bacteria. At that time there was more fear of tuberculosis than we have today with the coronavirus. This disease had no treatment and was a worldwide epidemic that killed millions of people. Its use prevented surgeons from infecting patients with coughing or sneezing and, in turn, they protected themselves from organic fluids such as blood, for example.

How to use them

The first thing to know about surgical masks is that they have to be placed well. It has two parts or surfaces. A white or lighter one that is absorbent and a colored one, usually green or blue, which is waterproof. The white part is placed inwards since Its function is to capture and absorb exhaled particles with breathing or cough. The colored part is placed outward and its function is to repel or prevent such particles from entering our lungs. We do not stop seeing people who take it backwards. The mask should be well adjusted, especially to the nose and the sides. This is annoying since if you wear glasses they will fog up, surgeons also happens to us.

The million answer comes: Do surgical masks prevent us from inhaling viruses or bacteria? The answer is no. So what use do they have? The fundamental use is that a person who is sick, be it the flu or another infectious agent such as coronavirus, do not spread it with a cough or sneeze outside in the form of microscopic drops suspended in the air and spread to others. If we do not want to get infected, other preventive measures are much more effective, such as maintaining proper hygiene, washing hands, moving away from sick people and maintaining proper ventilation of closed spaces, among others.


There are other types of masks, such as N95, FFP2 or FFP3, which They are much more effective in preventing the inhalation of infectious agents. These are much more expensive (can reach 30 euros), difficult to get and fit with such firmness to the face that, sometimes, they can make breathing difficult.

In principle, they are only recommended in the vicinity of patients or environments with high suspicion of being contagious. Nowadays, The Chinese community has made them virtually depleted worldwide. Today the flu causes more deaths than the coronavirus. Keep calm, do not get carried away by collective hysteria and follow the recommendations of your doctor, your health will end up thanking you.

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