Do Flu Masks or Respirators Prevent Swine Flu?

Many people in Mexico and throughout the United States and across the world have been seen wearing mouth and nose protection along with various types of face masks or respirators in recent days. This however begs the question — Do face masks really prevent swine flu?

Face MaskOf late, many people have been seen wearing face masks – which are loose-fitting, protective covers designed to help stop large particles from spreading from person to person. Face masks are not, however created to protect the wearer from breathing in very small particles.

Respirators, on the other hand, are made for exactly this purpose. Respirators are similar in appearance to the considerably less expensive face masks but are designed specifically to protect the wearer from breathing in such small germs and particles. Respirators typically fit much more snugly on the face than face masks; therefore most air is actually breathed through the filter material.

With a typical face mask, small particles can easily be inhaled around the edges of the mask, however a respirator that fits snugly on the face eliminates this problem almost completely. However, according to experts at the Centers for RespiratorDisease Control and Prevention, it’s typically easier to breathe through a face mask as opposed to a respirator over a long period of time. According to federal health officials, however, they are for the most part unsure as to either device’s effectiveness in preventing the spread of the Swine Flue epidemic.

Face masks and respirators are most useful for people in overly crowded settings, such as shopping centers or airplanes among others. They will typically protect the mouth and nose from germs and are also meant to reduce the likelihood of coughing or sneezing on others.

As always, using a big of common sense is always the best way to prevent the spread of disease. If you use a face mask or respirator, do not simply rely on them — face masks and respirators should be used along with other precautions, such as frequent hand-washing, covering coughs, and avoiding large crowds of people.

For the latest in Swine Flu protection, be sure to check out the Swine Flu Prevention page at

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