The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


Darrell Alexander

N95 face mask

Wear a N95 Mask?

A minor study concerning headaches and the N95 face-mask between healthcare providers published in U.S. Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health on in 2006 looked at healthcare workers wearing N95 masks during the SARS epidemic. It suggested that the use of N95 masks may cause the healthcare workers to develop headaches and wearing them for shorter amounts of time may reduce the frequency and severity of the headaches. It was during the 2003 severe acute respiratory distress syndrome epidemic that healthcare workers were mandated to wear the protective N95 face-mask.

They administered a survey to healthcare workers with the intent to determine risk factors connected with development of headaches (frequency, headache subtypes and duration of face-mask wear) and the impact of headaches (sick days, headache frequency and use of abortive/preventive headache medications). In their survey of 47 male and 165 female healthcare workers with an average age of 31 years (range, 21-58) participated. Of the 79 (37.3%) respondents who informed that they had face-mask-associated headaches, 26 (32.9%) reported headache frequency exceeding six times per month. Six (7.6%) had taken sick leave from March 2003 to June 2004 (mean 2 days; range 1-4 days) and 47 (59.5%) required use of abortive analgesics because of headache. Four (2.1%) took preventive medications for headaches during this period.

The study indicated that pre-existing headaches and continuous use of the N95 face-mask exceeding four hours were associated with development of headaches. They concluded that the healthcare providers may develop headaches following the use of the N95 face-mask. It was suggested that shorter duration of face-mask wear may reduce the frequency and severity of these headaches. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has approved the use of the N95 mask. The mask also can be cleaned and reused.

A representative from the U.S. Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC) admitted to Reuters that carbon dioxide (CO2) would slowly build up in the mask over time. It was suggested that the level of CO2 likely to build up in the mask is tolerable to most people, but you may get a headache and not likely suffer from symptoms of higher levels of CO2. The mask can become uncomfortable for a range of reasons including sensitivity to CO2. This is usually a motivation to remove the mask. It is unlikely that wearing a mask will cause hypercapnia.

This does not claim if hypercapnia will affect health workers or the general public. The general public would be less likely to cause complications like hypercapnia than to a health worker, who wear masks for longer stints.  Hypercapnia, also known as hypercarbia or carbon dioxide (CO2) retention, is a condition of abnormally elevated CO2 levels in the blood. Carbon dioxide is a gaseous product of the body's metabolism and is normally expelled through the lungs. In other words it is advisable to wear the mask for shorter periods of time where possible. Stay at home as much as possible and get plenty of fresh air.

Westend News

The Naselle Finnish American Folk Festival has cancelled their 2020 festival due to concerns around COVID-19. Their next festival is scheduled for July 29-31, 2022. Please mark your calendars to join them at that time. Meanwhile when activities and functions are allowed to resume, they hope to hold a series of Saturday cultural events at their Naselle Community Center located at 14 Parpala Road in Naselle. They hope to combine a lecturer and music group as well as vendors, in conjunction with a meal prepared by an organization that is interested in being at the festival. If you are interested in being involved please don't hesitate to contact them at or email the secretary at Please look for updates on future events on their Facebook page: Finnish-American Folk Festival of Naselle.


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