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Does anyone have any suggestions with regards to different mask to help my asthma?


Does anyone work in hospitals having to wear a mask? How are we finding it? Do you recommend a particular mask? Not allowed to wear cloth ones! Currently off work untill they decide what to do ...had an Occupational health appointment and say that they will need to find a alternative mask or may have to re -deploy me! : ( Can anyone help?

31 Replies


I was in hospital a couple of day ago and there was blue masks available at the reception desk to pick one up and use. Before I made my way to the A&E. All hospital staff are wearing them and are getting patients to use wear them too. So ask for one, I'm sure they will be able to provide you with one.

Sorry I haven't made sense in what I have written. I work in a hospital an the mask I use are flaring up my asthma and wondered if anyone has an suggestions in to a better one than ...better material or hypoallergenic?

I also work in a hospital but currently still shielding but when I have gone for hospital i have really struggled in the masks with my asthma. I don't have an answer sorry but I do think I may be redeployed due to this fact as we would have to wear all day.

Tatesar in reply to Popeyepony

Sorry to hear. I'm really hoping I can stay at work!

All the best with you

Hi, I have a smart mask, which is rechargeable, the filters last a week or longer dependent on filtration speed.

There are 3 different air circulation speeds.

Hypoallergenic material which ( most of it ) can be submerged in water to clean

I find it allows me to breath without the cloying effort cloth ones do.

There are lots on the market now mine was £40 the replacement filter cost £2.50 approx.

Each have different specs so how long they last between a charge etc, so dependent on your needs I would think this is a good option.

akosime in reply to 888Naples

Hi, just came across this message. If you dont mind may i ask pls what is the brand of face mask you are using? Is I also have asthma, works for the nhs and i have no choice but to wear a mask at work. But for when i travel going to and back from work i have been looking for a mask which can supply air while i’m using it. Is the one you are using a good fit around the nose and mouth? Thank you and hope you will kindly reply.

888Naples in reply to akosime

Hi, I attached an image of the product. Hopefully that is allowed .

You can find it listed online, and check it's suitability for you. I then purchased mine from Ebay uk stock rather than from overseas, you can also buy additional filters. These items are all primarily for the established Japanese/Chinese/Asian market. However I am an over 6ft man and do not find the mask tight and can successfully wear it with glasses without any fogging. It fits me well, it comes with 2 varieties of flexible straps depending on how you wish to wear it. The contact part of mask itself is flexible so molds to the contour of the face. It can be clean in boiling water.

The difference is noticeable to me and the internal fan system allows me to breath easily. Like all these things it works for some and not for others. Below is a link which has the product shown against other brands.

Hope that helps

And finally thank you and your fellow colleagues at the NHS. Where would we be without you....

888Naples in reply to akosime

Hi just noticed we cannot post pictures, but the link works. So the one I have is the 4th one illustrated it has the generic sounding name of Smart Electric Mask. If you are looking through Ebay you will find it there. Presently it is now on a sponsored link costing £40.75

Phone the Respiratory Clinic and ask for advice.

You are EXEMPT so do not wear one. The virus will not be kept out by a flimsy mask.

The mask is to prevent YOU from passing anything on to others. It won't fully contain minute particles but it'll hamper how far they travel. Not everyone is exempt and neither should they be.

Can you use a face shield? OH should be able to help but I understand your worries about redeployment

Tatesar in reply to QuietChest3

No it's not sufficient enough

I work in the ER and NICU (and starting to pick up Shifts in the OR). I wear the masks that they provide, the blue ones that tie around your neck and head. I find it very warm and at times hard to breathe with them on. At work, we take turns and go off to be able to stand away from everyone and take them off for a few breaths of fresh air. The way it is understood, if you are two meters from other staff, you can take a breather. When you are around patients, you keep it on. It is a “new normal” I guess and something that I have been told we just have to deal with it. When I am charting I go off to my own little corner and take the mask off my face. Gives me a little break. When I get off shift, and am walking to my car outside, and I take it off - it is then I realize how it has been affecting my breathing all day. I am wheezing. I can’t seem to get my asthma under control since March, and maybe the masks are part of the problem. Never thought about it. But I have no choice.

Tatesar in reply to Willow7733

Sorry to hear!

I am really suffering. My asthma nurse thinks it's flaring up my lungs and making them inflamed.

Its so hard to get breaks at work as we are just so busy!

Willow7733 in reply to Tatesar

I have been really struggling also. I am off today and tomorrow and am close to going to the ER to get some sort of help. But I am not too anxious to do that, because I work there. I am just telling myself that this will pass....

Tatesar in reply to Willow7733

You should see about taking time off! Have some time to reduce inflammation!

Willow7733 in reply to Tatesar

I need to do something. I am taking my rescue every hour. When I am doing well, I don’t use it at all - flares for me are not normal. I am on Dulera and Singulair and it is working well for me. But lately...just no control at all.

Js706 in reply to Willow7733

The advice from asthma UK is that your rescue inhaler should last 4 hours. If it isn’t you should be seeking some sort of emergency treatment, so please don’t put off getting help.

Are you taking 2 puffs at a time or have you tried taking 10 puffs through a spacer? If not it may be worth trying the 10 puffs to see if you get more relief - if it helps then you should still get an emergency GP appointment tomorrow but if it either doesn’t help or doesn’t last for 4 hours then you should be calling 999/going to A&E for further assessment and treatment tonight.

Take care and hope you get some relief soon

Willow7733 in reply to Js706

I was doing two puffs at a time, but just got frustrated/a little worried so I went to the A&E last night. It was getting too out of hand. I was given a nebulizer treatment, and a new prescription of prednisone and came home today (luckily, I am off this weekend). Was a little embarrassed to go, because I work there, but it was fine. At the end I was more worried than embarrassed and I just didn’t care who was there. :)

I can’t suggest an alternative mask unfortunately 😞 I’m having to grin and bare the surgical ones myself 😞

I also have asthma and work for the NHS. I can't breathe either wearing masks, makes me worse. I eventually got relocated so now I don't have to wear one which is a god send as no way could I wear one all day. I have to wear one in the mornings to our meetings but I have to keep lifting it up from my chin due to breathlessness!

Also I noticed that I was inhaling the fibres from inside the masks.

Sadly the mask exemptions don't exist in the NHS. If you work in the NHS you have to wear one. There are no exceptions. They have to be a surgical style too. There are a few variations by different manufacturers but they are fundamentally the same mask your manager should be able to order you the different styles available to try before a OH referral. I find that they often make my face itch, light burning sensation or leave a mark due to me being hypersensitive. I wear a face barrier cream to mitigate this. I also find they give off a "solvent" type effect. I have no sense of smell but I get the same reaction to masks as I do solvents (light wheeze initially). I do find that this passes after a short while but considering their composition and manufacturing process I have read that they can release solvents. I have to change mine almost 1-2 hours as I find leaving it on too long means I get a sore throat. You also can take short rescue breaks and wash hands, step out, remove mask, have a sip of water, short break, wash hands, and return too work. There should be no limit on this type of comfort break. No matter how busy you are you can also seek a comfort break for the toilet or a sip of water. I know it can often feel like there is no time but you need to make sure you put your health first. You can't help others or you team if you aren't able to help yourself.

Is there any way they can provide a side office you can work in and still do your job? Or can you work from home at all, even if it's only some of the time. If a side office is available and you are alone you don't have to wear a mask. If you share the office a risk assessment can be done that if you are 2 meters apart and there is good airflow you don't need to wear a mask either. It all depends on what your role involves and if you are patient facing or not. Non-patient facing areas still have to wear masks but may be able to provide a side office or sufficient barriers or spacing to allow you not to wear one. It has been really challenging in my Trust for any accommodations to be made and unfortunately there is very little sympathy for those who require mitigating circumstances. The NHS is not acting like the compulsory face mask wearing to going to stop anytime soon.

I would make sure you read you local redeployment policy and discuss all the options available to you with OH. the measures can seem very harsh and are likely irreversible. For instance in my trust if you choose redeployment then you basically have 8 weeks (notice period) to find a suitable alternative work place based on current vacancies, if the reason is medical redeployment there is no pay protection. If no suitable relocation is found/or accepted by HR/YOU/OH in that 8 week period your contract is terminated with no redundancy pay. You may be retired due to Ill health or just let go. So where possible it always serves you better to see if your current role can make any reasonable adjustments first. I would highly recommend speaking to a union representative if you are in and sign up if you are not. They can help navigate what support you can get locally. Remember you do still have a say in any options they offer based on your local policy they can not decide for you what is the best option.

I get fed up of comments saying that maybe I should consider trying to work somewhere else because there really is no "perfect" job for an asthmatic due to the highly varied and extensive list of triggers we each face. It doesn't mean we aren't employable, we made need reasonable adjustments to be made in some circumstances but we can often still work. This whole process can be stressful so be careful that stress isn't itself causing any asthma flare up.

I really do wish you the best and I hope you find what works for you. Try not to psych yourself out and seek out as much advice/ help you can locally that will help your particular role/circumstance.

Best wishes!

Tatesar in reply to Hippopotamai

This is such a helpful post! Thank you so much for your help. So kind of you x

Are you in a union? Get in touch with them too. Occupational Health are usually helpful

Yes in a union

This week, while working an overnight shift, a few of my co workers and I did an experiment. Half of us have asthma (as asthma is quite a common thing for people to have). We used the masks that are given out at the hospital. You can buy them on line and in different stores.

We took our saturation readings without the mask on. Then we put on the mask, and took our oxygen saturation again. No change. We then put on several masks over each other (six in total). Oxygen saturation did not change at all. This week (the same group will be working together again), if it isn’t too busy, we are going to test cloth masks that you can buy anywhere. Homemade ones to see if the same results can be achieved.

All this to say, the blue, yellow, or white masks you can get (like at the hospital) would be the best best. Because, medically, it is not possible for them to decrease your oxygen saturation at all. But, like many people, having something over your mouth and nose is psychologically concerning and causes anxiety, and we have reactions to that. In that case, I don’t think any mask will matter. It is really mind over matter. It is not the mask. I am positive there are many surgeons that have asthma, or breathing problems, and you never hear of them fainting or losing consciousness due to wearing a mask all day long. Because it is medically impossible. I get where people are coming from though. It is hot. It is uncomfortable. But it is SO important to wear one.

Carriejen in reply to Willow7733

I don't work in the NHS, so I dknt have to wear them. But hospital masks arent good for me. Hospital masks set off my asthma and leave me heavily relying on my inhaler. In the winter, I cant wrap a scarf around my face because the wool of a scarf sets off my asthma worse than the cold, so I tend to take the cold as the lesser of two evils.

My mother in law made cloth masks, from old duvet covers and I'm fine with those. I can wear them long term, I can shop, i can work all as normal. So it isnt always mind over matter, fabrics can be asthma-triggering as well :)

Tatesar in reply to Willow7733

It can be the mask! I have seen and spoke to a number of Asthma specialists and they have said that the moisture from mask can cause a flare up...they said it can cause inflammation which then causes breathlessness/tight chest/coughing. Also the fabric can be causing it too...the fibres in a mask can cause a flare up. Some people are more sensitive than others, especially if you have allergies.

I find when I wear it for a long periods and. consecutive days it's much worse.

Also they said if you have a flare up of your asthma from dust/pets/.pollen etc then putting the mask on it can make it much worse will cause irritation and eventually if not treated it can then cause a severe asthma attack.

I feel it's unfair to say mind over matter, some people are really struggling with the masks.... everyone is different.

EvieJo in reply to Tatesar

Hi, Tatesar, I agree totally with you. I have been sheilding due to my asthma being uncontrolled and having had several courses of pred in last few months. I too am NHS clinical - I am due back next Monday, I am on the rota already. My manager sent a risk assessment to OH who were supposed to be contacting me and Im still waiting! Getting very anxious now, left a message again today for someone to contact me ASAP. The medical masks cause me great problems, the heat generated is a huge trigger for me and I suspect the fibres and such dont help. It’s all well and good testing oxygen sats but you can still have acceptable o2 levels and have asthma symptoms that make life pretty unbearable especially if you work in a hot humid environment. Interested to know what OH suggest for you? Have they said anything about redeployment? I don’t see how I could be redeployed within a clinical environment.

Yes, you are right, we are all different, we all have different triggers and responses, my asthma will be different to yours, and someone else’s. Can’t be so simple minded about it.

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