Can Surgical Masks Protect You from Getting the Flu?

Manal Mohammed

The flu virus is mainly spread by droplets expelled from the mouths and noses of infected people when they cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can spread up to six feet away.

It may seem intuitive that if you wear a surgical mask you could stop the virus from getting into your lungs. And certainly that’s how most masks are marketed online. One flu surgical face mask even boasts: “Protect against the Deadly H1N1 swine flu that has killed many world wide and other bacteria and viruses in the air.”

The logic of wearing a surgical mask must surely be: if it works for surgeons, it must work for me. The problem is, the mask isn’t intended to protect the surgeon. It’s intended to stop droplets from the surgeon’s mouth or nose getting into the patient’s wound and causing sepsis. 

… Basically, there is no strong evidence to support well people wearing surgical masks in public … The best thing you can do to stop getting the flu is to regularly wash your hands, and try to avoid touching your face.

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