Although they report difficulty breathing and discomfort while wearing a face mask, most people with asthma still use them in public places during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study finds.
University of Illinois Chicago researchers conducted an online survey of more than 500 adults with asthma. They found that 84% reported discomfort and 75% reported trouble breathing or shortness of breath at least occasionally while wearing a face mask to guard against COVID-19.
Still, "the majority of those surveyed said about masks, 'Just wear it,'" study co-author Dr. Sharmilee Nyenhuis said in a university news release. Nyenhuis is an associate professor in the College of Medicine.
Poorer asthma control and wearing a mask for longer periods of time were associated with more symptoms while wearing a mask, according to the study. The findings were published in the January issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.
As well as answering survey questions, participants were asked open-ended questions about their experiences wearing masks and their recommendations for other people with asthma.
In that part of the study, 45% of participants said they had problems breathing and increased coughing when wearing a mask 39% said they had no change in their asthma when wearing a mask, and 2% said their asthma symptoms improved when wearing a mask, likely because the mask filtered out pollen and pollutants that trigger respiratory distress, according to the researchers.
About 5% of the participants said they don't always wear a mask.