SALT LAKE CITY — As the temperatures begin to creep up and the flowers start to bloom, many people’s seasonal allergies are starting. More than 19 million Americans suffer from allergies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some people may see less severe allergy symptoms this year if they are wearing a mask, according to Dr. Robert Silge, an allergist with Intermountain Healthcare.
“There are some studies that show it does in fact reduce the amount of pollen that you are getting into your nose and your mouth,” he said.
Unfortunately, studies show it doesn’t make a difference with watery or itchy eyes, since masks don’t create a barrier there. But the study does show the severity of seasonal allergies decreased when wearing a mask.
“I think it will make a difference, but I don’t think it is sufficient to eliminate those symptoms altogether,” Dr. Silge said.
Last year, Sarah Chung noticed her seasonal allergies didn’t bother her as much. Now, she thinks she may know why: staying home and wearing a mask.
“It definitely helps staying inside, so I didn’t really experience my spring seasonal allergies last spring,” she said.
The idea of wearing a mask to help lessen the severity of seasonal allergy symptoms isn’t new, Dr. Silge noted.
“You may have an image in your mind of people in Japan wearing masks all the time, and it is usually not for infectious reasons — they tend to wear those in the spring because of cedar pollen,” he said.
People should see an allergist if their allergy symptoms are impacting their life and are very severe, Dr. Silge suggested.