As the number of COVID-19 cases climbs, more cities are requiring the use of face masks and other forms of personal protection equipment in public spaces. Noted valley doctor Kristen Bishop speaks out about the potential health risks associated with prolonged usage. 

As prolonged mask use has increased among essential workers and the public, reports of the following symptoms have also increased: dizziness, headache, fatigue and more.

Bishop, lead doctor and medical advisor at Keystone Natural Family Medicine, shares the following tips for staying safe during PPE use:

• Use cardiovascular exercise to improve oxygen throughout the body. When you arrive home, exercise without your mask for 20 minutes while trying to reach your target heart rate. This will help combat the decrease of oxygen in your blood caused by the use of face masks.

• Keep your mask clear of microbe build-up. Washing your masks in hot water or leaving it out in direct sunlight can prevent them from becoming a breeding ground for bacterial than can lead to illness.

• Boost your immune system to keep yourself going during PPE use. Picking nutrient-dense foods is the first step in keeping your immune system strong during the global pandemic.

In the wake of coronavirus, it is more important than ever to have a fully functioning immune system and care for your mental health. Dr. Bishop provides additional tips to boost your health and immunity. 

Physical activity and exercise can improve immune system function. Because coronavirus doesn’t spread in pools or survive in the direct sunlight in the valley, Dr. Bishop recommends pool parties as a great way to reach your movement goals. 

“Sunlight also boosts our vitamin D which is another great benefit for our immune system and mental health,” Dr. Bishop says. “Stay safe by limiting exposure, covering sensitive skin to avoid burns, using broad brimmed-hats to shade your face and staying well hydrated.” 

Social interactions play important roles in our mental health. Dr. Bishop recommends connecting with each other to celebrate special occasions. Birthday parties and barbecues can be significant opportunities to make memories and boost our emotional states. Practice safe measures by keeping groups small and communicating any signs or symptoms of illness in advance. 

Sometimes we can’t avoid travel. Dr. Bishop encourages everyone to keep a normal sleep routine while traveling and if you will cross time zones, adjust your schedule accordingly and use melatonin if needed. Disruptions in sleep can cause fatigue and can negatively affect immune function. 

For those worried about coming in contact with potentially contaminated surfaces, she recommends the use of natural products that have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties such as essential oils. Oils are easy to carry and use, and can provide relief to hands when used in between hand sanitizers to give skin a break from harsh chemicals. 

To learn more about Keystone Natural Family Medicine, visit here. To keep up with the latest news and recommendations, follow along on Facebook and Twitter.