A strong immune system is your defense against infections. There are some people who rarely seem to get sick, and then there are those who have trouble staying well. People with chronic medical conditions are often said to be immunocompromised. This means they may be more susceptible to infections due to a weakened immune system that is less able to defend against disease.
In this article we’ll explore what it means to be immunocompromised more fully, and provide a few key things to keep in mind when picking protective gear like face masks and shields to keep you as healthy as possible.
Simply, people who are immunocompromised have an impaired immune system.
Diabetes, severe liver or kidney problems, cancer, autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy, malnutrition, alcoholism, advanced age, and stress are all examples of conditions that can weaken the immune system. Certain medications, like steroids, and those used for chemotherapy or after an organ transplant, can also lower immunity. Those who are immunocompromised can also have more frequent, severe or uncommon infections, and recover more slowly. To complicate matters, a weakened immune system may not show much of a response at all, resulting in symptoms that are either mild or even absent.
Face Masks for People Who Are Immunocompromised
At one time, health experts maintained that healthy people should not wear facial masks, but that has since changed. One of the current recommendations of the CDC is that we all wear cloth face masks in public when social distancing is difficult. The official consensus among health and medical experts is that face masks can help prevent the transmission of certain viruses and bacteria to others. According to the CDC, “masks are a critical preventive measure and are most essential in times when social distancing is difficult.”
A cloth face mask is meant to prevent the wearer from spreading infection to others. If we all wear masks in public, the chances of transmission become significantly less. This is true whether we are infected or not — symptomatic or not.
The need to reduce exposure is even more important for immunocompromised individuals, since they have a greater chance of being infected or becoming infected, and thus spreading infection. This also translates to those who are regularly in close contact with or live with these individuals.
The World Health Organization recommends that masks have at least three layers: an inner layer of absorbent material, such as cotton; a middle layer of non-woven material such as polypropylene; and an outer layer of non-absorbent material, such as polyester or a polyester blend. The masks should cover the nose, mouth, and chin, be secured with elastic loops or ties, and be washable and reusable.
A Word About Respirator Masks
Respirator masks, which include FFPs, N95s and N99s, offer the wearer the most protection against viruses and bacteria in the air. Although they are a highly sought-after item, these masks are designed for healthcare workers in specialized settings like hospital wards — not the general public. The masks are fitted to each user to form a tight seal around the nose and mouth and some have a one-way valve which allow easier exhalation. However, masks with these valves are not recommended since they do not filter what the wearer breathes out and offer no protection to people around you.
These recommendations hold true whether you are immunocompromised or not. If you have a weakened immune system, the best way to protect yourself will be to invest in high-quality cloth masks that adhere to WHO and CDC guidelines like those made by Boomer Naturals.
We offer comfortable, reusable, lightweight masks that conform to these guidelines, and feature cutting-edge anti-microbial Nano-Silver Technology to keep you even more protected. Our masks come in child and adult sizes made of a 65% cotton/35% polyester blend, are comfortable enough for daily wear, easy to breathe and talk through, and can be washed 30 times.