Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stop that cold with a mask

A cold mask can keep colds and flu from starting, and greatly reduce the symptoms and length if one does get sick.  It works by allowing one to breathe warm, moist, acidic air from one’s own lungs. 
Infected lungs and sinuses are irritated by cold and/or dry air, and respond by becoming inflamed and putting out protective mucus, causing drip, coughing, sneezing, and congestion.  Cold and flu viruses prefer the cooler temperatures of sinuses and lungs to the rest of the body, and more easily invade when humidity is low, which is common indoors in the winter.  Wearing a thin cotton mask that has some space for air to sit in warms and humidifies the air that one breathes, making life easier for the sinuses and lungs, and harder for the germs that are attacking them.  The air coming out of your lungs is 40,000 parts per million CO2, compared to 400 ppm going in.  This makes it a bit acidic, which germs also don’t like.
I first discovered this when I lived out in the desert near Kingman, Arizona, at the time when the Sin Nombre hantavirus was newly discovered and was still called the Four Corners virus.  It was May and hot; not the normal season for colds.  Spread by mice in their urine, it was causing people to suddenly collapse in places like air conditioned dance floors.  They were taken to hospitals; their lungs filled up with fluids; and they died.
I got a lung infection that was making the air bubble in my lungs.  Figuring it was the Virus, I began to get worried, and thought I should go to the hospital.  I actually got into my car to go.  As I sat in my very hot car, I began to breathe better, and I started to think.  Hospitals are cold.  Dance halls are kept chilly in Arizona in May.  People had collapsed on the dance floor and died in the hospital.  If I went to the hospital, my lungs would fill with fluid and I would die. 
So, I stayed home, put on a bandanna mask, and wore a wet towel on my head to keep from overheating my brain.  I breathed much better, and got over it in a few days.
But a bandanna folded in half is a bit thick to breathe easily, and it squashes the nose a bit.  I eventually cut some in half and sewed up the cut edges with elastic over the nose to allow it to rest easily on the nose and create a bit more room for air to gather.
I wear a cold mask around my neck throughout the cooler seasons.  When the air feels cold or irritating in my sinuses or lungs, I pull it up over my nose and breathe my breath, which feels better.  This can stop a cold from really getting started.  But if one starts, it relieves symptoms greatly and shortens it considerably.