I think you have noticed that spring is inexorably approaching, and with it allergen drifts, flowering, pollen and dust.
I live in a neighborhood where there is a lot of greenery. Despite this, in the spring, when the snow melts, clouds of dust and sand rush through the streets. The wind lifts from the roads everything that was generously sprinkled on the streets in winter. How to be allergic when even people with healthy lungs suffocate?
My son is allergic to birch pollen and has hyperreactive bronchi. Spring walks for the baby are a real test. We protect the lungs with what we could find – filters for the nose, glasses, masks. Each of these means of protection has its own characteristics, pros and cons.
Pollen under the microscope
Before choosing a mask, pay attention to what size particles it traps.
Nose filters for allergy sufferers
The filter is a small contraption that is inserted into the nose. The best filters are made in Japan, England and Italy. Nasal filters are almost invisible, manufacturers call them invisible respirators. Advertising claims that such filters successfully replace any masks. Is it really?
- Allergens: pollen, dust, mold spores, animal allergens;
How to choose a filter
Manufacturers offer filters in three sizes. S – suitable for children and adults who are lucky enough to have a small nose. Everyone else needs to try on sizes M and L. If you order a filter without trying it on, look at the instructions for the exact sizes.
There are filters for a “dry” nose – Nose masks, and filters for a “wet” nose – Pit stopper. Wet nose filters are used during a runny nose – they absorb moisture.
Please note that if you put the filter on a “wet” nose, the size of the filter will change slightly – by 1-2 millimeters.
Children are allowed to wear filters from 4-5 years old. Manufacturers advise parents to help insert the filter into the nose of a child under 12 years of age.
When you buy a filter, do not immediately throw away the instructions, you will need them 🙂 For example, the instructions describe in detail the rules for using the filter. In case I am late with advice, I will list the basic rules.
And so, you bought a filter, took it out of the package and admire it. What to do next?
- Moisten filters for a wet nose with a little water before inserting into the nose;
- When you insert the filter, the plastic jumper should be adjacent to the nasal septum and not hang out;
- Breathe in a few times, feel how the air passes through the filter;
- In the first minutes, you will probably feel a burning sensation or other discomfort. Don’t be scared, this is normal;
- Filters can be worn without removing up to 12 hours;
- After use, the filters must be washed with a stream of clean water (you can use a soap or disinfectant solution);
- If you wear the filter during a runny nose, do not forget to rinse it – 1 time per hour;
- Dry the filter for 4-6 hours at room temperature. It is not necessary to put on the battery;
- One pair of filters will last 7-10 days if worn every day for 12 hours.
Pros and cons
- Almost invisible, does not cover the face, does not interfere with eating;
- Made from hypoallergenic materials;
- Can be used by pregnant women and children from 4 years old;
- One pair can be used up to 10 days;
- It is easy to look after filters – to wash, dry, disinfect;
- Allows you to reduce the amount of drugs for allergies;
- Does not fully protect against allergens (get through the gaps). Therefore, filters often have to be combined with drugs;
- Nasal breathing is difficult, so children, and adults too, begin to breathe through their mouths, which means that dust or pollen will fall directly into the bronchi;
- Side effects may occur – burning, headaches, drowsiness. Nosebleeds if the filter is ill-fitted or incorrectly installed. Deviated septum;
- An invisible respirator in practice turns out to be clearly visible – the connecting partition under the nose cannot be hidden;
- When the filter is in place, the top of the nose looks noticeably larger. An unpleasant fact, especially for women;
Masks for allergy sufferers
Decided not to take risks with nasal filters? Well then masks are for you. They also protect and protect no worse than filters, you understand. There are many models for every taste and color.
Masks are used even by lovers of running or Nordic walking – who want to breathe deeply when hundreds of cars are smoking nearby. Among my acquaintances with allergies, there are asthmatics who cannot wear masks – there is not enough air.
What kind of masks are
- Full-faced, those that protect the eyes as well;
- Half face. For those whose eyes do not react to the allergen. You can buy goggles for eye protection with this mask. For example, order glasses for cutting onions on Aliexpress;
- Disposable and reusable (with replaceable or washable filters);
- Masks with various filters – coal, HEPA;
- Valve masks. The valve makes breathing easier, but in some models it increases the risk of pollen ingress (check when you buy);
- There are models that are not suitable for allergy sufferers, for example, running masks;
- Masks – bandanas;
- Masks for hot and humid conditions (RESPRO ULTRALIGHT MASK).
- plant pollen;
- mold spores;
- Some types of bacteria;
- Household, construction, street dust;
- animal allergens;
- Clay, coal dust;
- Smoke, soot;
- Cigarette smoke;
- Traffic fumes;
- Powder gases;
- Vapors of household chemicals;
- The smell of perfume and paint.
HEPA filter does not retain odors, it filters the smallest particles of dust and allergens. The charcoal filter saves from the smell.
How to choose a mask
The mask must fit snugly against the face. It is best to try on the mask before buying. If it is not possible to try on a mask, carefully look at the dimensions indicated by the manufacturer. The minimum mask size (S) is usually not suitable for children under 6 years of age. For my 5-year-old son, I sewed on the mask with my own trembling hands.
A good allergy mask should have a replaceable HEPA filter, adjustable braces (important for children) and a quality valve. Pay attention to the quality of the fabric, it will often have to be washed or steamed.
I bought an English Respro Ultralight Mask with a Hepa filter for my baby. The mask is good for everyone, but mine had a smell, which, however, disappears after a couple of days.
- Comes with HEPA and carbon filters;
- HEPA filter effectively blocks small dust and allergens of 0.3 microns;
- Carbon filter provides great protection from paint fumes, smoke, and dust;
- Unlike a nasal filter, the mask protects both the nose and mouth;
- Long service life if replaceable filters are used;
- Does not cause side effects;
- By wearing the mask during pollen season and following a hypoallergenic lifestyle, medication may not be needed;
- Attracts attention. People approach and ask about the mask when worn outdoors. My son likes it 🙂
- Makes the face sweat. It can be hot inside the mask in late spring (my little one agrees to wear the mask when riding a scooter. The air from fast riding gets under the mask and the face sweats a little less);
- If you don’t live in Moscow, it will be difficult to try on the mask, and the child will have to order it by eye and then adjust it with a needle and thread.
How to care for an allergy mask
Respro Bandit bandanas
My son has been undergoing ASIT for the third year, and now we can afford to walk without a mask during the birch pollen season. Last year we walked, and nothing bad happened.
This year we want to walk during the birch pollen season. It’s scary. That’s why I ordered a Respro bandana instead of a mask. The protection is less, but a bandana is not a mask, and it’s more comfortable to wear. I also ordered one for myself, to keep company.
A bandana is a scarf made of thick fabric with a built-in activated carbon filter. It has a nose clip and a chin strap. For children, you can buy or make head straps that will help keep the bandana in place.
It turned out that wearing a bandana is not easy – it takes some getting used to, and I didn’t get it right away.
All bandanas are the same size. However, when I ordered, I was warned that the bandana with skulls is slightly smaller than the red and black one. The red and black one turned out to be made of denser fabric.
- It’s easier to breathe compared to a mask.
- Can be washed and ironed.
- Stylish and eye-catching..
- No HEPA filter
- The charcoal filter cannot be changed
- The filter is designed for 6 months of daily use
- The nose clip may press or not fit snugly
- May need to modify the bandana to fit properly
- One size fits all
- Can cause sweating
What it filters
- Smoke and smog
- Exhaust fumes
- Allergenic dust
- Construction dust
- Mold spores
I read in the reviews that allergy sufferers confidently use the bandana during alder bloom and in autumn if they have a reaction to mold. There are positive reviews among those who wear the bandana during birch pollen season, despite the lack of a HEPA filter. Perhaps the bandana helps those who only have a reaction to high pollen concentrations. We haven’t tried it during birch season yet.
How to care for it
After being outside, steam the bandana and let it dry. It can be washed once a month in cool water (30 degrees Celsius). If necessary, the bandana can withstand a few minutes in boiling water. Just don’t dry it on the stove.
Where to buy it
Online stores. If you can’t find it among allergy products, look in stores for cycling and motor sports enthusiasts.
NAROO masks came to us from Korea. The masks were developed for athletes who had to train in large cities. The masks were also appreciated by pedestrians.
NAROO masks do not have HEPA or activated carbon filters, but the manufacturer assures that the MICRONET filter will stop small particles up to 1.7 microns.
There are many models available from NAROO, but the F series is popular among allergy sufferers, including the F.U. Plus and F5S models.
I was interested in the reviews of owners. They say the mask holds up well against urban dust, low concentrations of alder pollen, and mold spores. It’s unclear whether the mask holds up against birch pollen, as I’ve seen different opinions in the reviews – it probably depends on the sensitivity of the allergy sufferer.
I ordered these masks for myself and my son. I’m waiting for them to arrive.
I finally received the mask. I’m not entirely sure it will help allergy sufferers, especially those who are highly sensitive. It may work against urban dust or indoors, but not against pollen outdoors.
Size S: 16 x 10.5 cm (Length x Width)
Size L: 18 x 12 cm (Length x Width)
- Easy to breathe in;
- Not hot to wear indoors;
- Fits snugly to an adult’s face, but may require alteration for a child;
- Does not fog up glasses (depends on the individual’s face);
- Can be washed multiple times (but not in a washing machine);
- The F.U. Pluse model has adjustable ear loops.
- Doubtful that it will hold back pollen;
- May require alteration for children under 10 years old. Alteration is not always easy since the fabric is loose and difficult to work with;
- Some people may notice a smell even after washing multiple times, but the author’s mask did not have this issue;
- The nose clip may press on the nose or not fit snugly;
- The ear loops may press on the ears or cause them to protrude;
- In models with a scarf, the neck may sweat in warm weather.
- Wash by hand in warm water when you come inside from outdoors;
- Do not wash the mask in a washing machine;
- Do not steam treat, as the fibers may fuse together under the hot steam;
- Do not iron;
- Do not use bleach.
Xiaomi Pear Fresh Air Mask
I collected information about the Xiaomi mask on forums, searched for owners and asked questions. The Xiaomi mask turned out to be quite complex, with a fan – air purifier, and the fan has 3 modes of operation, with the battery lasting for 4-8 hours. The manufacturer claims that the mask filters particles of 2.5 microns.
- Low price;
- HEPA filter;
- Flexible plate and foam on the nose bridge – does not press on the nose;
- Attractive design and packaging.
- Hard to find replacement filters;
- Some people report feeling hot in the mask when exposed to sunlight;
- Does not filter out odors (HEPA filters are not designed to filter out odors, an activated carbon filter would be needed for that);
- May cause glasses to fog up;
- Sometimes the mask does not fit properly and can let allergens in.
Mask 3 М Aura 9322 +
My acquaintances with allergies speak well of the budget 3M Aura 9322+ mask.
These are disposable masks designed for workers and are intended for one work shift. The NR (non-reusable) marking means it is disposable. 3M masks come in cup-shaped and foldable designs.
- FFP1 – traps 80% of large particles (large dust, cement particles, coal dust, pollen);
- FFP2 – traps 94% of small particles and liquid aerosols based on oil and water (wood dust, coal particles);
- FFP3 – traps 99% of solid and liquid particles (radioactive dust, mold spores, bacteria and viruses).
- Has an exhale valve (but it often fogs up).
- Can be counterfeit (how to distinguish between genuine and fake masks is not disclosed by the 3M mask manufacturer, citing commercial secrecy). Try to buy masks from official distributors;
- Cannot be washed; Breathing can be difficult;
- The filter cannot be replaced;
- For a small child, modifications will be required (many use a stapler to secure the mask on the sides);
- Has an odor;
- The internal valve quickly fogs up and effectively stops working (one solution to the problem is to change the mask more often and try to exhale directly into the valve);
- May cause skin irritation after use..
We’ve paid a lot of attention to protecting the lungs and nose. But what about the eyes? Unfortunately, allergens can easily penetrate through the eye mucosa.
For those who wear full-face masks, this is not a problem – but I suspect that they are in the minority. Personally, full-face masks make me think of post-apocalyptic fiction.
There is always a way out. If you can’t find special allergy glasses, try swimming goggles or ski masks. Earlier, I wrote about glasses for cutting onions – they are also excellent protection. If the glasses fog up, you can try wipes or anti-fogging agents. Use anti-allergy eye drops and don’t wear contact lenses.
Masks for allergic pets
And finally, at the end of the article, about our smaller brothers. Among animals, there are also those who suffer from allergies, and they, like humans, suffer from dust and pollen in the spring. Fortunately, you can find masks and respirators for pets in online stores. Unfortunately, I know very little about such masks. If you know something, please write in the comments.