People who have asthma or other lung conditions should not wear a face mask if it makes it more difficult to breathe, experts have warned.
The Government issued advice last week telling Brits to wear face masks where they can’t stay two metres away from other people to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Masks can help stop the spread of coronavirus – by catching droplets which infect other people – they may not stop the wearer from getting the virus, but prevents them passing it into the others.
Masks could make it ‘harder to breathe’
Asthma UK said: “For some people with asthma, wearing a face covering might not be easy. It could make it feel harder to breathe.
“The government has advised the people with respiratory conditions don’t need to wear face coverings – so if you are finding it hard, then don’t wear one.”
The Government guidance says: “If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
“This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas, for example, on public transport or in some shops.”
It adds: “Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 2 or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly. For example, primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions.”
For people who suffer from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, emphysema or lung cancer, wearing masks can be particularly difficult.
Immunology and infectious diseases specialist at New York University Dr Purvi Parikh told the MailOnline: “Those with lung conditions are in a catch-22 because they probably need the mask more than the average person but it can be challenging to breathe.
“A tight mask on your face can make anyone have trouble breathing.
“I even get it when I’m treating my patients.”
She said warm weather could make it even more difficult.
“We’re approaching summer-time so it’s hot outside, and when you’re consistently breathing hot air on top of your own breath that can be quite uncomfortable.”
The Government has published a how-to guide to help people make their own facial coverings – and stresses people should not be buying medical grade masks needed by NHS staff and social care workers.
Dr Parikh said people who can wear masks comfortably – even if they have asthma or COPD – should do so where possible.
She said: “[Vulnerable] people should absolutely wear masks if they can.
Not only will it protect them but people with asthma or COPD may actually spread more of the virus because they’re coughing, sneezing and breathing harder than other people.”