A doctor wore a cloth, an N95 and a surgical mask at the same time to dispel a common myth

As face masks have become mandatory in many places to limit the spread of coronavirus, it's also become an increasingly politicized thing. As we know, anything that involves political polarization also involves vast amounts of misinformation and disinformation. Whose idea was the internet again?

No one I know loves wearing a mask. We all wish we didn't have to. But there are an awful lot of people saying they can't wear one, or they refuse to wear one because they've been led to believe that masks are somehow more dangerous than not wearing one. I've seen and read "information" on everything from masks depriving people of oxygen to masks causing CO2 build up to masks creating fungus problems.


Dr. Gloria Guptill/Facebook

We have to be wary of where we get our information from. Thankfully, there are true experts out there to set the record straight.

Like many physicians, Dr. Gloria Guptill has been fighting COVID-19 myths on social media. Recently, she did an experiment with three masks at once to dispel the myth that masks deprive people of oxygen.

Dr. Guptill wrote on Facebook:

"Need a medical excuse not to wear a mask? You can't breathe with it?

Actually, YOU CAN breathe. As an experiment, I wore a cloth mask, surgical mask AND N95 mask, one on top of the other, for the first thirty minutes of my day today. And guess what... my oxygen level is 99%, same as without it. Yes, it was hot and a tad uncomfortable but I survived. I wear a mask ALL day and I am just fine. You can do it too.

I have heard every excuse under the sun why some people don't want to wear masks. I have gotten requests to write notes excusing patients from wearing masks to work, on a plane or wherever because they 'can't breathe.' I get it- it's summer and it's hot. They are uncomfortable. We aren't use to it. I don't disagree. Wearing a mask is about you protecting others. I get it- you feel fine but as we all know, you can spread the virus while feeling just fine and the person(s) you give it to may not have it so easy. There isn't a medical condition that excuses you from wearing a mask. If you truly feel that your condition limits your ability to wear one, please call your doctor. If you have asthma or COPD, you should really be staying home as much as possible and these conditions are all the more reason TO wear a mask. Pick a comfortable mask that is fit well for you and wear it correctly. A mask that doesn't correctly fit your face can be more uncomfortable then it needs to be. Find a mask made from moisture wicking and breathable fabric. A three layer cloth mask is best for being out and about. They work. When you breathe, droplets from your mouth and nose spread about 6 feet. The mask contains these droplets.

Unless you are under 2 years old, are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help, you need to wear a mask.

Surgical and fabric masks do not add resistance while inhaling. They simply decrease droplet spread. Mask do not effect respiratory mechanics. If you feel you can't breathe, you need a new mask. If you truly can't find one that is comfortable and you MUST go out, wear a face shield that drops down below your chin. Theoretically, since the mask is acting as a shield not a filter (only N95 can also filter), the shield should also stop the droplets from being dispersed. There isn't any data on shield vs. mask currently. Masks should contain the droplets better though.

The bottom line: Wear your mask, you can breathe. Sorry it's not as comfortable as without it, but a ventilator is a whole lot more uncomfortable. Do it for others. We have to.
Have a great day!
Gloria Guptill, M.D."

The good doctor also answered some questions in the comments and added some additional information. This is about CO2 build-up:

"Carbon dioxide molecules freely diffuse through the masks, allowing normal gas exchange while breathing. Ask ANY board certified physician in America and they will tell you rebreathing tiny amounts of CO2 from wearing either properly fitted N95 respirators or more loosely fitted cloth or surgical masks is of no concern. Way before the conspiracy theorists, medical providers have worn surgical or cloth masks for 12 hour surgeries without retaining CO2. The CO2 molecule is so small it doesn't accumulate behind the mask AND EVEN IF IT DID, it is easily eliminated by both the respiratory and metabolic systems in the body. Read a Human physiology textbook for more information. We learned this the first year of med school."

A commenter claimed that they had blood work done while wearing a mask and that it showed elevated CO2 levels. She responded by saying: "CO2 is often/usually elevated on blood work because most people hold their breath a little when it is being drawn. This isn't due to the mask."

One commenter claimed that his O2 level went from 92 without a mask to 49 with a mask, to which Dr. Guptill pointed out that he would be comatose if his blood oxygen really got that low. So probably a broken pulse oximeter (or a broken sense of reality—but that's my take, not the doctors).

She also clarified what each mask actually does.

"N95 masks are the only masks that can protect you from Aerosolization, which is why physicians intubating COVID-19 patients need to wear them. Cloth masks contain your droplets inside the mask so you wearing one protects others. The cloth mask you wear doesn't protect you. Your mask protects others and their masks protect you..."

Just like if two little boys are running around naked and they pee, their pee is going to get on each other. If they're both wearing pants, the pee stays contained to their pants. Wearing pants keeps pee from going on other people, but doesn't keep non-pants-wearing-people's pee from getting on them. We're only all protected if we all wear pants. Same idea with masks. It only really works if all of us do it.

Some people feel like they can't breathe because of claustrophobia or anxiety, but that can be remedied by practicing wearing masks for a few minutes at a time and building up a tolerance.

If you truly have a breathing condition that makes it impossible for you to wear a mask, then wear a face shield—but also consider not going places if possible, because if you can't breathe in a mask, you definitely don't want to get COVID-19.



Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

Keep Reading Show less
Pets

Ginger the dog reunited with family 5 years after being stolen

Ginger's family never gave up hope, and it payed off.

Ginger the dog was missing for five years before being reunited with her family.

A sweet pup is finally home with her family where she belongs after way too many years away.

Ginger the dog was stolen from her family back in 2017. Her owner, Barney Lattimore of Janesville, Wisconsin, never gave up the hope that his sweet girl was out there somewhere. Whenever he'd see a dog listed on a rescue website or humane society website that even remotely resembled his Ginger, he would inquire about the dog. Unfortunately, it was never her. You'd think that after a while he would stop, but if he had, he likely wouldn't have gotten the sweetest reunion.

Keep Reading Show less

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

Keep Reading Show less