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Face masks - how to cope with hyperventiliation/panic when wearing one?

(29 Posts)
Olliephaunt4eyes Mon 04-May-20 19:59:53

Obviously, we're likely to be obliged to wear face masks in public for a while. I've always had massive issues with having my nose and mouth covered and having experimented a couple of times lately with face masks - they really really set me off. First time I managed to wear one for about 5 seconds before snatching it off because I was panicking. Second time I tried to bull through it and had a full blown panic attack - arm and legs going numb, not being able to see properly, massively hyperventilating.

Has anyone else gone from having that kind of panic response to breathing through a mask to being fine and how did you do it?

OP’s posts: |
LilacTree1 Mon 04-May-20 20:34:32

I think if you get this out in your doctor notes it should mean you don’t have to wear one

I’m asthmatic but even without that, I can see that wearing a mask would be bad for you in many ways. In hot workplaces or on the Tube, even worse. I have written to the Mayor re the asthma situation. Asthma UK have said - to me, not yet a public statement- that if you feel your breathing is impaired, you shouldn’t have to wear one.

longearedbat Mon 04-May-20 20:45:09

It is not 'obvious' that we will have to wear compulsory face masks. I think you are panicking unecessarily.

LilacTree1 Mon 04-May-20 20:46:47

I do think that masks will be encouraged, because of all the medical issues, rather than made mandatory. Maybe in shops.

Have Scotland does it as a legal thing or “strongly suggested”?

Grumpbum123 Mon 04-May-20 20:48:09

Yes I do due to past abuse and being suffocated it’s horrendous

cologne4711 Mon 04-May-20 20:55:03

Have you tried with other face coverings or a proper mask? For example could you have a snood pulled over your mouth (but not nose if that is too much)? We shouldn't be wearing medical grade masks unless the availability becomes much better anyway so a cloth mask will be fine if you can cope with that.

bombaychef Tue 05-May-20 11:00:30

Could you try with a loose scarf, held in place and do a few seconds and build it up?

goose1964 Tue 05-May-20 11:10:30

I used to be like that but then I was diagnosed with sleep apnoea and have to use a mask. I suggest you try a mask and instead of concentrating on the mask concentrate on your breathing. It may only work for a second or two, but if you do it regularly you should find the time you can put up with it will gradually improve.

Keepdistance Tue 05-May-20 11:13:12

If anything extra resistance might actually be good for asthmwtics lungs. In certain getting covid would be worse and that SOB you cant just take off when you get home..
But i have sympathy for the panic. What is your mask? As others say maybe a surgical masks ? Or homemade one - ones with proper filters should allow breathing.
Asthmatic nurses are having to wear the proper masks for hours

tdm1 Tue 05-May-20 11:13:31

Perhaps you can use a plastic face shield/visor (easy enough to make for yourself by stapling an A4 sheet of clear plastic onto a baseball cap)? Journal of the American Medical Association says they might be as good as or better than face masks

starray Tue 05-May-20 12:00:47

When I had to use the full face mask (CPAP) for Covid in hospital, I found it really really hard as it seals your face completely and it is claustrophobic. What helped me pull through it was remembering that it was helping me to get better. I just tried to focus on the oxygen coming through, thinking of the oxygen as a life source, breathing it in deeply. I also tried to remember that if I really really needed to,there was no law against me pulling me off. (Although the doctors would not have wanted me to do that). The alternative would have been a ventilator and I tried my best to keep the mask on even though I found it torturous. You need to practise with those cloth or cotton face masks and try to get past that fear as if you catch Covid, the mechanical face masks may save your life and you will need to be able to put them on.

starray Tue 05-May-20 12:03:07

And yes, I totally understand the panic.

HoneyBee03 Tue 05-May-20 12:43:59

Just don't wear one, I highly doubt that we would be required to.

Flipflopflapflip Tue 05-May-20 12:48:22

I work in a hospital and I hated the masks the first day we had to wear them and was conscious of it all of the time and felt like I couldn’t breathe. It really felt intolerable but very quickly you learn to ignore it and now it feels weird (but amazing) when I haven’t got it on.

Orangeblossom78 Tue 05-May-20 12:48:42

I think in Scotland they only said about a face covering not a mask and only on public transport, also think it was advice rather than compulsory.

In case that helps a little.

BamboozledandBefuddled Tue 05-May-20 13:27:06

If they become mandatory (looking unlikely) try a scarf in the thinnest fabric you can find - natural fabrics are best. Drape it as loosely as you can around your head to cover your nose and mouth. It will be completely useless as a mask but will comply with the law and silence the mob. If they're not mandatory then don't wear one - if you genuinely have issues wearing them, they should be avoided.

Greysparkles Tue 05-May-20 13:30:29

I very much doubt masks would be mandatory.
How would you make children wear then? Who would enforce this? Who would pay for them?

bellinisurge Tue 05-May-20 17:13:06

My dh is asthmatic. I've suggested he either wears a loose scarf over his nose and mouth(like a shemagh) or nothing at all . I made some fabric ones for Dd(13) to see which she dislikes least - might be "necessary " or expected to wear one in a shopping centre or wherever.

Olliephaunt4eyes Tue 05-May-20 17:53:59

Thank you everyone for the advice! It's really helpful, especially the suggestions of a loose scarf. I'll try that.

OP’s posts: |
Firef1y72 Tue 05-May-20 18:51:46

Can you get hold of a buff?
It's like a tube that you can wear in different ways including over your mouth and nose. I struggle with things over my face, (dv), but regularly wear a buff in cold weather to warm the air as I run.

Mabelbaby Thu 14-May-20 21:18:34

I definitely have had panic attacks and can barely keep a face mask on — I feel as if I can’t breathe. The face masks are recommended but should not be forced on anyone for this and many more reasons. I am extremely careful to social distance and not talk If I can help it when inside a grocery or pharmacy. Frankly I feel that the face masks have given people a false sense of security— they get right up next to you with a face mask — this simple covering will not make you impervious to covid or any illness.

Bouledeneige Thu 14-May-20 21:32:18

I too have been working on the assumption that we might be required to wear masks. So I've been wearing one when I go to the supermarket.

I am not an anxious person and I don't have any underlying conditions. But I found it really unpleasant and it's made me cough quite a bit ( not encouraging to other shoppers). But I'm working on the basis that I should get used to it. Japanese and Singaporeans have been wearing them for a long time so presumably they have overcome initial discomfort. I presume I will learn to bear it.

SpeedofaSloth Thu 14-May-20 21:37:50

They aren't compulsory anywhere at the moment, in the UK.

TBH I think this is a good argument for not making them compulsory. I fit-test RPE at work and it's not so uncommon for people not to be able to work in a mask for this reason, usually reported as claustrophobia. I understand that CBT can be useful but it can be tricky to access.

Splattherat Fri 19-Jun-20 14:01:28

I am asthmatic I also don’t like things covering my nose and mouth and worry whether face masks/face coverings may do me more harm than good. I am also a menopausal glasses wearer (whose glasses steam up regularly when I overheat) even without a mask. I tried a home made mask and it felt to claustrophobic. I thought the guidelines said if you were asthmatic you could either not wear a face covering or you were recommended to wear a medical grade face mask? Has anyone tried these or can anyone recommend a particular one and where to purchase these from please? Ideally with a link so I can purchase online as I need to wear one to go to my GP’s for a blood test next week. Two friends I know have ones with a bendy metal nose piece but both got their supplies free from friends (one from her husbands work and another whose friends, friend is a carer). Thanks

HeIenaDove Fri 19-Jun-20 15:14:40

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