concerns about wearing N95 mask..

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    I will be working in medical pulmonary floor soon. During physical exam, they did a pulmonary function test and found my result was quite low - borderline low. The RT even have me redo it 3 times just to make sure. The doctor told me I should be fine but may have trouble if there's a need to wear N95 mask.

    I can see his concern, because when I wear a regular mask I normally try to make it looser as I sometimes do get light headed when it's too fit.

    I've never wore a N95 mask before, and am concerned if I just won't be able to do it if I have to care for a TB patient. If that really is the case, would I have to quit my job? should I mention it to my manager in advance?
  2. 10 Comments so far...

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    You really need to discuss your concerns with your facility's occupational health office and/or your primary care physician. Employee health may have options for you if you cannot tolerate a N95 mask. You should strongly consider going to your PCP to discuss your abnormal PFT results.
    hgrimmett likes this.
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    I personally HATE masks.....you do get "used to them". They have that tendency to make you feel breathless and claustrophobic.

    I agree with Beachy......see your PCP about your results to be sure the is no medical condition that needs attending to.......just remember to stay calm and breathe SLOWLY and normally. or you will hyperventilate causing you to feel dizzy and tingling all over then spasms of your hands and face....it's called carpal pedal syndrome/hyperventilation syndrome.
    Medscape: Medscape Access requires registration but it is free.
  5. 0
    I choke behind my n95 too, but yea I did get used to it. One clinical site had Powered air respirators (PAPR). full face masks with a little fan in the back that blows filtered air in your face. Alot of nurses loved them over the N95 although you look like an scuba diver!

    Google it and you'll see alot of examples of these mask hood things. some are super high tec $1000's and some are relatively cheap. This is simmilar to one I saw on the floor.
    3M BE12 Hood-PAPR Hoods
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    There are other respirators, like the duckbill one...that's the one I have to use because the N95 just doesn't fit my face. I tend to get hot and feel claustrophobic in masks, but you get used to it.
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    I have severe asthma. I can wear an N95 with no problem related to my poor pulmonary function. Doesn't mean I like them. The light-headedness you describe is not likely related to your lung function but more the general uncomfortability of the mask. As others said, you will get used to them.
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    Thanks for all your reply! I will follow up with a PCP when my new insurance become available. Hoping for the best that I will just get use to the mask.
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    I would agree - talk to occupational health and or your primary care. You need to discuss these concerns. If possible get a copy of your PFTs and take them to you PCP.

    I am allergic to latex. So my issues at work are a little different... I'd never worn latex before working as an RN on a unit I used to work on. Everyone assured me I wouldn't have issues. My skin is always sensitive to everything. So I go to work and try the gloves and I have a reaction. Yeah. People can be full of poo. Sometimes you have to advocate for yourself. I guess that's my point. You don't do your patients any good getting exposed to TB just like I wouldn't have done my patients any good continuing my latex exposure to the point of having an anaphylactic reaction.

    But I have worn N95s for 3 years now for work (as an assistant and then RN). I have an awkwardly shaped face so I have always had to have a different mask (one facility it was a duck bill mask but my new facility it is not quite a duck bill but not the normal N95 mask). I very rarely had to wear N95 on the floor as a floor RN. And though I'm sure you love all your patients - the policies at my facilities about airborne was always that you spent as little time in airborne isolation as possible.

    Public service announcement - varicella (chicken pox) is considered airborne too. And if you aren't in the OR - fun fact/trivia - condyloma (genital warts) are airborne particulates if they are subject to electocautery.
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    I am concerned that you "loosen" even the regular mask. This can mean that you are not getting the protection you need. This is even more important in cases where the N 95 is required. The hospital I work had SARS pts so the importance of a proper fitting mask is very important to me! I hope you can see your MD soon.
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    They'll prob do a full Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire that will be reviewed by an MD prior to fit testing. As mentioned, the PAPR should be an option available for you. It provides you with filtered air, supposedly making it easier to breathe than the N95, N99, etc. It is also quite fashionable! Just look at that handsome fella!
    Name:  PAPR.jpg
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