Messages have been circulating on social media, warning people that wearing face mask for a long time results in a health condition called hypercapnia. But this is wrong information. These messages claim that wearing face masks for a long time results in the building up of carbon dioxide in the blood, making it acidic. But according to health experts, there is no proof or study claiming that wearing face mask results in making blood acidic.
One of the Facebook claims states that wearing the mask for a long time causes respiratory problems. The post also claims that the second wave of COVID-19 is highest in the countries that have made the wearing of face mask compulsory.
Another post blames the compulsory wearing of face masks for hypercapnia. "This is Hypercapnia. It can be caused by breathing your own exhaled CO2 by wearing a mask continually," it says.
A similar claim was made in Thailand asking people not to wear face masks for a long time. "Don't wear a facial mask for too long, be careful when your blood is too acidic because of oxygen deficiency. This would cause headaches, nausea, weakness, dizziness. Please find time to breathe without a mask," the post says.
But in fact, Thailand's Department of Disease Control had published an infographic stating that there is no proof for the claim that the use of masks results in the changes of pH balance in the human blood.
This information is important because Hypercapnia is a Greek word with the literal meaning too much (hyper) smoke (kapnos). In medical terms hypercapnia refers to a condition of elevation of carbon dioxide in blood to an abnormal level. It disrupts the pH level in the blood that becomes acidic. The symptoms of hypercapnia are anxiety, headache and breathlessness.
With the Thailand health department saying that there is no proof that wearing face masks results in an increase in pH level in the blood, the claim made by the social media posts remains false.
Another proof is the infographic used in the viral social media post itself. The post has been wrongly represented. As reported by AFB, the original post is from WikiJournal of Medicine. The original post does not mention wearing of mask at all. The caption just reads: "Main symptoms of Carbon Dioxide toxicity."
But the infographics shared on social media reads: "This is Hypercapnia. It can be caused by rebreathing your own exhaled CO2 by wearing a mask continually."
When compared to the original infographics it is clear that the one shared on social media has mentioned face masks, without any study to back it up or proof for it.
Fake posts making rounds on Facebook linking fake masks with hypercapnia: