COVID-19: Wear A Mask, Yet Be Careful
Forty years ago while operating on a trauma victim who fell asleep at the wheel, I became more tired than usual despite the adrenaline-rush to save a life. After completing surgery and removing the mask, I was wide awake again.
At that time physiologically, it was explained to me exhaling into the mask made it more likely to inhale my own expelled carbon dioxide (CO2). Most of the time this is not a problem, but since surgery took 6 hours, it was thought using a mask exposed me to higher CO2 concentrations.
With the COVID-19 crisis, it is now recommended to wear a mask outside most of the time.
Be aware though, usage of a mask might cause some to have increased CO2, or possibly even decreased oxygen. If you experience sleepiness, tiredness, or even mental confusion, find a safe place to remove it for a while. Using masks are critical for all of us because the benefit far outweighs the risk.
Should you be wearing one, please be especially careful when driving, so you don’t fall asleep at the wheel.
Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.