As face masks become a staple of our day to day lives with their various colours and designs, more people have reported sore throats as a result of wearing their mask. While a sore throat is a less common symptom of COVID-19, it can be still be indicative of the virus. So how do we tell the difference?
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, one of our main responses has been to use face masks/coverings to trap droplets when we talk, cough or sneeze.
This avoids the spread of the virus by preventing these droplets from transferring between individuals, especially among those who have the virus but do not show symptoms such as a sore throat.
Speaking louder for longer periods may cause inflammation of the larynx
One overlooked reason as to why a person may experience a sore throat after prolonged mask wearing may be speaking louder for a longer period of time. This may cause inflammation of the larynx (containing your vocal cords), giving your voice that familiar hoarse sound.
Although sore throats are a less common symptom of COVID-19, suffering from one may lead people to incorrectly think they have contracted the virus. This could cause an increase in the demands for unnecessary COVID tests, putting additional strain on the NHS.
Unwashed masks can lead to the acquisition of bacteria from dirt and dust particles
While sore throats are most commonly a symptom of viral infections such as pharyngitis, they can be caused by bacteria, for example streptococcal infections (strep throat).
Therefore, wearing a mask for long periods of time without washing it can lead to the acquisition of bacteria from dirt and dust particles. This can irritate the throat, resulting in soreness.
The transfer of bacteria can be increased by the constant touching of your mask with unclean hands. Cleaning your hands before and after taking off your mask, as well as washing the mask frequently, can help prevent this. It is also important that you allow your mask to completely dry before wearing it. If you choose to air dry your mask in direct sunlight, this can help kill microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses by damaging their genetic material.
With all this in mind, there’s only one thing left to say: happy mask wearing!
Featured Image: Alexandra Koch on Pixabay
Last modified: 30th October 2020