How to avoid overheating while wearing a face mask – Lowell Sun
BOSTON, MA – JUNE 22: MBTA Transit Ambassador Stephan Dumeus prepares to pass out free masks to riders who need them at Ashmont Station on June 22, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Angela Rowlings/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

The hot and humid summer months can become even more of a scorcher while wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus, but one doctor said choosing a breathable mask can make things cooler.

“It’s really not about sealing yourself off the way I do when I see a patient here with COVID,” said Dr. Matthew Mostofi, associate chief of emergency medicine at Tufts Medical Center.

Mostofi said wearing a tight fitting N95 mask isn’t necessary for the average person, and picking a more breathable mask made of cotton, cloth or paper will help to keep cool.

He said a healthy person shouldn’t have significant health impacts from wearing a mask in the heat, but those with conditions such as lung disease could be affected by the extra work of breathing.

Mostofi said to look out for signs of overheating such as shortness of breath, weakness, thirst and dizziness, then get to a cooler space and drink water.

“The way the body cools itself off is by sweating so you have to be hydrated and be able to make sweat,” Mostofi said.

Most people presenting with heat-related illness are those who are unable or unwilling to get out of the heat, which can be influenced by things such as intoxication, mental health disorders, Mostofi said.

On Monday, Mayor Martin Walsh advised residents to take precaution in the hot and humid weather this week. He tweeted, “If the face covering results in overheating or trouble breathing, find a shaded area where 6 feet of distance from others can safely be maintained and remove the face covering.”

Temperatures will hover in the mid to high 80s in the Boston area for the rest of the week with the warmest days set for the beginning of the week before a cold front comes in, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Torry Gaucher.

When dew points get into the range of 60-70, “That’s when you can really feel how soupy the air will feel,” Gaucher said, adding that Boston residents will experience that weather on Wednesday.

Towards the end of the week, the weather will become more seasonable, “It’s going to feel a little drier, it’s not going to feel as humid or as sticky as we go into Thursday,” Gaucher said.

The three month weather outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows there is an above average chance for above average temperatures throughout the northeast this summer.