Can surgical masks protect you from getting the flu?


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 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."

Surgical masks were first introduced in the operating theatre in the late 1800s, usually made out of two layers of gauze. The masks first found their public appeal during the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918—an epidemic that killed around 50 million people.

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How does the flu virus spread?

Seasonal influenza viruses are assumed to be spread from person to person, among communities principally through virus-laden droplets produced when the contaminated person sneezes, coughs, or even talks. These droplets can be accumulated onto the mucosal sides of the upper respiratory passage of vulnerable persons who are close to the droplet origin. The virus causing flu transmission also may take place via the direct and indirect interaction with the contaminated person's respiratory fluid emission and through the hand.

Does wearing a surgical mask prevent the flu?

It can help block the airborne germs and viruses in the air. It can also help to prevent the transmission of germs from person to person aside from protecting you from flu.

Flu viruses are transmittable through the air in forms of droplets when someone infected coughs, sneezes or talks.

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Should you wear a surgical mask when sick?

It’s best to wear a surgical mask if you’re sick, wearing since it can help to protect others from getting sick. And likewise, wearing a mask around those who are sick will probably diminish your own chances of becoming infected.


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