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Headache from N95

Posted

So mild hypercapnia can cause headaches among other symptoms. And wearing a facial covering for hours on end can cause hypercapnia; which seems obvious to me but if anyone wants 'proof' just Google it or check out the article I put below . I definitely experience headaches while wearing the mask.

I would never be able to take a nursing job that required constant mask wear like the OR and I'm shocked that anyone does. I guess the mask doesn't bother some people as much? Maybe some people just have a physiology better suited to compensate for hypercapnia? Therefore maybe they experience less symptoms.

Anyone else get headaches from the mask?

Carbon dioxide re-breathing with close fitting face respirator masks

Enarra, BSN, RN

Specializes in Ambulatory Primary Care. Has 9 years experience.

I suspected that wearing N95 for 7.5 hrs was giving me daily headaches. I didn’t make the link between mask and headaches for weeks LOL. It’s not much of a choice when working with COVID19 patients I need that mask and it needs to stay on while I’m in that zone.

Edited by Enarra

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

17 minutes ago, paramedic-RN said:

I would never be able to take a nursing job that required constant mask wear like the OR and I'm shocked that anyone does.

The OR does not routinely wear N95 masks, which is what this article refers to. I have never had an issue wearing a mask for hours on end.

No headaches so far, but I have had pain behind my ears from the weight of the masks.

Enarra, BSN, RN

Specializes in Ambulatory Primary Care. Has 9 years experience.

TenaciousME - there’s something called ear savers. Can buy on Etsy you hook the ear straps to it and it lifts it off your ears. Voila painfree

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adventure_rn, BSN

Specializes in NICU, PICU.

On 5/18/2020 at 8:53 PM, paramedic-RN said:

I would never be able to take a nursing job that required constant mask wear like the OR and I'm shocked that anyone does. I guess the mask doesn't bother some people as much? Maybe some people just have a physiology better suited to compensate for hypercapnia? Therefore maybe they experience less symptoms.

I wonder if people just start to adjust to it over time? The surgical masks really bugged me when we first started wearing the daily (my ears hurt, and I got a weird paresthesia that felt like the tip of my nose had fallen asleep), but after a couple of weeks it went away.

On 5/18/2020 at 8:11 PM, Rose_Queen said:

The OR does not routinely wear N95 masks, which is what this article refers to. I have never had an issue wearing a mask for hours on end.

Even if not an N-95 I think any facial covering (such as a surgical mask) that forces you to re-breathe your CO2 could cause hypercapnia. Still surprised that it doesn't give some people headaches, I'm not even prone to headaches, I very rarely get them otherwise.

BlindWatchMaker

Specializes in Orthopedic Scrub Nurse. Has 26 years experience.

There is a UK study on hypercapnia with one brand of closed circuit air supplied OR suits (space or moon suits). It that found hypercapnia occurred with a low blower setting. The study recommended the high setting. Useful science - we have another brand with three levels of blower settings. After I read this paper, I elected to use the highest setting.

N95's give me some hypercapnia under exertion. Cloth and surgical masks don't.

Out of curiosity, I know about hypercapnia and my body. By consciously timing your breathing with open circuit scuba you can extend time under water by maybe 30%. Many call it skip breathing. The penalty is hypercapnia. For me the whole brain and spinal cord gets a dull ache. I can feel my mind slow. I just want to slow down. Stop finning. Then, I start to breath freely and it all goes away. Of course, this is underwater. Due to the pressure, other gas things get screwed up. But, if you are as lucky as I used to be - you should have no problems. I do not do this anymore but it is tempting for a longer dive.

On 5/21/2020 at 4:33 PM, paramedic-RN said:

Even if not an N-95 I think any facial covering (such as a surgical mask) that forces you to re-breathe your CO2 could cause hypercapnia.

This simply isn’t true. Surgical masks are far too leaky to cause hypercapnea.

I am OK wearing a Surgical mask 8 -12 hours during my shift. I don’t have asthma or any underlying cardiac/respiratory history.

I do get tired, feel less productive and have a tickle in the back of my throat around 7-8 hours. By the time I come home within 2-3 hours I feel well.

I feel great on my days off work. Long term mask I feel fatigued.

But I only wear a surgical mask not even a n-95. Once in a while I have to wear n-95 depending if patients co-vid isolation which is rare.

I am OK standing/sitting. But I move around a lot. Don’t know. I am not a complainer in life. I ran half marathons prior to lockdown.