Healthbeat: Mask wearing may help allergies


KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — We’ve been urged to wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but this spring those masks are serving a dual purpose.

For those of us with allergic rhinitis or allergic asthma, masks can serve as a barrier between allergens and your nose and mouth. If you can prevent pollen and other allergens from reaching your respiratory system, you can prevent congestion, sneezing and excess mucus.

The mowing happening in Frank Sanfilippo’s yard isn’t being done by the Kingston homeowner. Not a chance since he started experiencing something about a year ago he never had before

“And all of a sudden I get these allergies with the flowers coming out, the budding of all the vegetation, the grass growing and being cut of course,” Sanfilippo said.

One way he says he battles sneezing, congestion and a runny nose that come with spring allergies is to take over-the-counter medication. But there’s another way to fight what’s called allergic rhinitis or allergic asthma, those surgical-style masks many of us are wearing during the pandemic.

“Yeah, they do help definitely in reducing an airborne allergen that a person could inhale,” Allergist Dr. Raymond Khoudary said.

Pollen grains can be as tiny as 10 microns. Surgical masks can catch particles more than three times smaller but they won’t protect you from every spring allergen.

“The mask will not help the symptoms in the eyes. So, if you have allergic conjunctivitis the mask will not help,” Khoudary said.

He recommends protective goggles for that. Dealing with spring allergies can be a job hazard if you work in lawn maintenance.

“It goes along with the game. It’s the dust, the allergies. Some people have them, some people don’t. I don’t personally have the allergies that badly,” Dan Dan Bartusek of Dan Bartusek Lawn Maintenance said.

Masks may not be the long-term solution seasonal allergy sufferers need. That may require treatments such as antihistamines, decongestants or even allergy shots and immunotherapy.

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