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Who and when should you wear a face mask? The health department recommends that everyone over the age of 2 years should wear cloth face masks in public places, especially in areas where it is difficult to maintain the mandatory 6 feet distance.

It is best to wear a face mask if you are sick and if there are other people around, at home also. Caregivers are supposed to use the facemask when cleaning and disinfecting a sick person’s bedroom or bathroom.

When visiting a doctor or a hospital, you should wear a face mask.

Wearing a facemask is in addition to other COVID-19 safety measures. You still have to limit contact with other people, wash your hands often with soap and keep surfaces clean.

Who should not wear a face mask?

Children under two years of age, someone who is having trouble breathing, someone who is unconscious or people who can’t move or take-off a mask by themselves need not wear a mask.

The right way to wear a face mask

Before you put on a face mask, wash your hand for 20 seconds with soap and water. Then, secure the mask either with ties behind the head or loops behind the ears as provided. Adjust to fit the mask properly around your nose and mouth and under your chin.

Take care, there is no space between your face and the mask. Pinch the top edge of the mask to fit it around the bridge of your nose. The mask should fit comfortably and be able to breathe easily through it.

Once you wear it and step out, do not go on touching your mask every now and then.

Cleaning and maintaining the face mask

It is best to wash cloth masks with hot water and detergent after every use. If the mask has a filter, take it out before washing. After taking out the mask from the washing machine, hang it up for drying. Wash your hands when you’re done.

After drying your mask check for any hole or frayed edges that can cause gaps around your face.

Before you use the mask again, check for holes. Be sure it’s not frayed and doesn’t gap around your face.

It is recommended to wash your face mask rather than just putting it out in the sun since there is no evidence that sunlight can deactivate the COVID – 19 virus.

Myths and facts about face masks

Gaps in masks make them useless

A mask that does not fit perfectly may not be totally useless if it has a high filter level. Even cloth masks that fit perfectly can’t stop all particles. But a mask that has a gap won’t work nearly as well as a perfectly fitting mask.

Should wear a mask at home too

It is not required to wear a mask at home unless you yourself are sick or you are caring for someone who is sick.

We should wear a mask when exercising outdoors

Though it is best to wear a mask when you go outdoor, wearing a mask and exercising has its own problems. Some people will feel breathless when they wear a mask and exercise. So, it’s fine not to wear a mask when exercising outdoor if you maintain 6 feet distance with other people.

Masks trap carbon dioxide and viruses

Continuously wearing an N95 mask for several hours can make CO2 linger behind the mask. The presence of excess carbon dioxide will cause headache, dizziness and fatigue. At the same time, cloth and surgical masks generally do not cause so much of a problem.

Yes, mask could trap particles of coronavirus and that is why it is recommended that face masks should not be touched often when wearing them and they should be properly washed once you use them outdoors.

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WHO and ICMR recommend that everyone, whether sick or healthy, should wear a face mask, especially where it is difficult to maintain social distancing. Wearing a face mask is all-important because

Coronavirus can spread from even asymptomatic people (those without symptoms) or those who had symptoms previously. A person is most contagious just before symptoms begin.

Here are a few pointers for buying a face-mask and using it.

How does a face-mask work?

If a person who is infected with COVID – 19 coughs, sneezes or talks, they send tiny droplets containing coronavirus into the air.

The face-mask helps cover your mouth and nose acting as a shield to block out the virus-filled droplets present in the air. This helps slow down the spread of COVID – 19.

Does the face-mask protect me?

A cloth face-mask will not block-out the coronavirus. The face-mask is, of course, an added layer of protection for you and the people around you when used along with regular hand washing and social distancing measures.

What are the types of face-masks available?

There are mainly two types of face-masks, one is for frontline health care workers and another one for non-healthcare workers or the common people.

Masks for healthcare workers

The N95 respirators and surgical masks are best suited and should be reserved exclusively for frontline health care workers and first responders. Since these masks are in short supply around the world, they should only go to doctors, nurses and other medical staff who need them most.

N95 respirator masks are those that fit tightly around the face. They can filter out 95% or more of the smallest particles in the air. Care should be taken to see that they fit just right for them to work properly.

Surgical masks are the usual blue and green coloured ones that fit loosely across your nose and mouth. These help shield against larger drops that come directly from the sick person’s cough or sneeze. They don’t filter out all germs and can’t block the tiniest of particles that carry coronavirus.

Masks for non-healthcare workers

Cloth masks are the best option for the general public and non-healthcare workers. Here are a few things to remember when buying handmade cloth masks.

You can always sew a piece of fabric into a face-masks or tie it around your face. It is best suggested to use at least two-layered cloth masks. You can even add a pocket in the front for putting in a filter. Copper wire or ribbon helps to fit the masks on the nose bridge.

You can also use dust masks available in hardware stores. Neoprene masks help stop the droplets and prevent infection. The other option is using a piece of cloth as a scarf wrapped around the face.

A comparison of face-masks

Earloops vs ties

Since you can adjust it, a mask that can be tied behind your head will usually fit well than the one that loops around your ears. But the ties can get tangled up in the wash or when you handle it whereas the loops remain free and easy to use. The looped ones are better in places like hair salons.

Filter vs Non-Filter

When there are a series of layers or folds, it prevents particles from escaping into the air and from entering the nose and mouthparts of a person. The negative aspect is that too many layers can make it difficult to breathe. Select and use a mask that is more comfortable and suited to you so that you keep using it. Check whether the filter material is safe.

Make a No-Sew Face=mask

First, choose a piece of cloth that is square in shape and measures 20 inches on each side. Fold it into half.

Fold the top third down and the bottom third up, so you have a long rectangle.

Slide the rectangle through two rubber bands or elastic hair ties until they’re about 6 inches apart. Tuck the ends together.

Hook elastic over your ears and adjust the fabric, so it fits snugly but it not too tight.

Face-mask materials & rankings

The extensive research has resulted in a proper ranking for the fabrics used:

  1. Tea towel in two layers
  2. Cotton mix fabric
  3. Cotton T-shirt material
  4. Antimicrobial pillowcase
  5. Scarfs
  6. Linen

A tea towel is thicker and so maybe too hard to breathe through in spite of its higher rank.

The best filter materials

Access is most important in times like this, so some household materials that can be used for the filter.

Paper products like coffee filters, paper towels and toilet papers. HEPA filters with multiple layers block small particles almost like N95 masks but have tiny fibres that can get into your nose and mouth. You can also cut up a polypropylene shopping bag, the one that has a fabric-like feel and use it between layers of the mask.

How to buy a face-mask?

When buying an ordinary cloth face mask, enquire whether it has been designed as per the sewing instructions of the health authorities of your region. Look whether the mask has more than one layer of fabric. Make sure you can freely breathe through the material.

Next look for the fit, whether it is comfortable and fits the face well, there should not be gaps around your nose, mouth and chin.

The mask should either have a tie or loops for wearing. It should be easily washable and consistent in its shape even after repeated washing.

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Coronavirus is a family of viruses that has gripped the world for long. It includes right from the common cold virus to viruses that cause more severe diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

What is Coronavirus?

Like most of the other viruses, Coronavirus or COVID-19 also brings on typical symptoms in humans, including fever, cough and breathing difficulties. The symptoms show a mild start and then progress to severe. It can result in inability to breathe, lack of oxygen and thereby collapse of various organs.

Up till now, no medicines have been found useful in treating Coronavirus disease and there are no vaccines available so far, though research is going on at full steam across the world. This means in severe cases; there is all probability of the disease leading to the death of the patient.

Spread of infection

COVID-19 spreads from person and person at a fast rate. The disease mainly spreads from an infected person through the droplets from the nose or mouth. When an infected person coughs or exhales. When the droplets come in contact with otherwise healthy people (EITHER DIRECT AEROSOL OR FOMITE TRANSMISSION) it comes in contact with their nose, eyes, or mouth and the infection spreads.

Where does COVID -19 survive?

The droplets can also fall and remain on various surfaces we contact in our daily life. It can survive from a few hours to as long as 2-3 days on these surfaces. It could be doorknobs, railings, seats in transport buses, seats and handrails in trains, clothing, packaging and the list is endless. The virus can survive on different materials like steel, plastic and cardboard with ease.

World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that the virus that causes COVID – 19 is transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets.

Dos & Don’ts to Prevent Covid -19

Here are a few relevant dos and don’ts to safeguard oneself and prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection.


• Wash your hands as often as you can. Take care to spend at least 20 seconds washing and thoroughly scrubbing your hands with soap and water.

• Wash hands after visiting the toilet, bathroom, before and after eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, after returning from outside

• When you are out and about and you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with min. 60% alcohol)

• Cover your nose and mouth with disposable tissue or handkerchief when you sneeze or cough

• Throw used tissues in a covered bin

• See a doctor if you feel unwell or have (high fever, difficulty in breathing and cough)

• While visiting a doctor or hospital wear a mask/cloth to cover your nose and mouth


• People without symptoms need not wear the face masks which are vital supplies for healthcare staff to take care of those seriously ill.

• Avoid travel if feeling sick or having any of the symptoms of COVID-19

• Do not organise or attend social gatherings, parties, political meetings. weddings and other events where people gather in large numbers

• Avoid contact with people who show signs and symptoms of the illness

• Avoid raw/undercooked food.

• Don’t touch your face, nose, eyes or mouth before washing your hands

• Stop smoking and use of other tobacco products

• Don’t spit in public places

• Avoid handshakes and touching surface in public places like railings, door handles and park benches

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Rheumatoid arthritis is a autoimmune condition. The condition occurs when the immune system, which is supposed to protect us, goes out of control and begins to attack our own body tissues. The disease causes inflammation in the liming of the joints (the synovium) and results in redness, warm feeling and painful swelling in the joints.

RA can occur on both sides of the body, where it affects both hands, both wrists or both knees. This is one sign that differentiates it from other forms of arthritis. RA is progressive and over time, it starts affecting other vital organs and parts of the body, including the eyes, heart, lungs, blood vessels and more.

Symptoms of RA

The most prominent warning sign of RA is joint pains and swelling in the joints on both sides of the body. There may be stiffness, early in the morning or when you sit in one position for a long time. Constant fatigue is also a very apparent sign of RA.

RA affects people in different ways. In some, the joint pain may occur over several years and in others, it will set in quickly. Some others will have RA for a few years and then it will go into remission with no symptoms until it resurfaces later after several years.

Who are at risk?

The disease is more common in women than in men. But when men do get affected there, the degree of pain will be much more than normally for women. Adults in their middle age are the worst affected and at risk to get affected. Sometimss’ young children and older people are also seen to be afflicted with RA.

What are the causes of RA?

Till now, the specific reason for the onset of RA has not been pinpointed. There is something that triggers the immune system to attack the joint cells and sometimes other organs too. Reserach tells that some kind of virus or bacteria may be changing the immune system, causing it to attack your joints. Specific other lifestyle causes include smoking.

How does RA affect the body?

Usually, the immune system cells move from the blood into your joints and tissues that line them.  This kind of tissue is called the synovium. Once these cells arrive, they start the inflammation. This causes joint swelling as the fluid builds up inside it. Finally, the joints become painful, swollen and warm to touch.

The inflammation wears off the cartilage in the joints which is a tissue that covers the bones. As the cartilage is lost the space between bones decreases. The result is that soon the bones start rubbing against each other and they move out of place. The cells that cause inflammation contain other substances that are harmful to the bones.

The inflammation then spreads and affects other organs and systems all over the body.

How is RA diagnosed?

Rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed through observation of the symptoms like painful joints, especially the hand joints. Joint stiffness, bumps and nodules under the skin and through an analysis of the certain X-rays and blood tests.

Treatments for RA

Treatments for RA include medications, ample rest, proper exercise and in very severe cases surgery would be recommended to correct damaged joints. There is no cure as such for RA but early and aggressive treatment will help prevent any disability and decrease the chance of remission.

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It is a known fact that influenza or for short the common respiratory flu typically peaks in January and February. The illness appears in a range of mild to severe degree. Occasionally hospitalisation will be needed to treat very severe cases. Though surprising, the influenza-related death rate is rather high across the world.

What is the flu?

Flu is actually the short form for seasonal influenza, which is a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system. The flu symptoms often come on suddenly and at first look like the common cold. A runny nose, congestion, sneezing and sore throat are typical.

What are the symptoms?

The typical symptoms will include fever, body ache and muscle stiffness, chills and sweats, headaches, cough, fatigue and weakness.

Influenza and Stomach Flu

The seasonal flu is not in any way similar or related to the stomach flu which is a collective term for an intestinal infection. The stomach flu will result in diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea and vomiting.

Causes for flu

When a person with flu coughs or sneezes, the flu virus travels through the air in droplets when a healthy person inhales the droplets, the virus infects the person too. Even though less likely, the infection may spread by touching objects previously contaminated by a sick person and then inoculate yourself by touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Who is at risk?

If a person is young and robust with a healthy immune system, the flu will be self-limiting, which means it can resolve with some supportive care. But high-risk people including young children, adults over 65 years, pregnant women, people with chronic illness and people with weak immune systems, can develop serious complications.

Mostly notably, this group of high-risk people can develop pneumonia due to the flu, which can lead to respiratory failure and finally, even death.

How to prevent and protect against the flu?

You can take specific steps annually to protect yourself against the flu attack.

Get vaccination: The flu vaccine is available as an injection or a nasal spray. While the vaccine may not be 100% effective, it is the best defense against flu infection.

Wash your hands: You must practice good hand hygiene which prevents catching the flu and other infections. You can scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer too.

Cover your coughs and sneezes: Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue paper when you sneeze or cough. This prevents the virus from spreading. You can also put your arm up and cough or sneeze into the sleeves and do not sneeze or cough into your hand directly.

Keep away from crowded places: The flu virus spreads easily wherever there is a crowd. These places could be anywhere you go daily like the schools, office buildings and auditorium and even public transportation. You need not be reclusive but avoiding such crowded areas during the peak flu season will lower your chances of catching influenza.

Treatment for flu

Usually, complete rest and drinking plenty of fluids will take care of your flu. Some doctors may prescribe antiviral medications depending on the severity of your illness. If the symptoms are severe and you fall in the high-risk category, then seeing your doctor as early as possible and if need be getting admitted in a hospital will be appropriate to tackle the condition.

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