A face-mask decreases the risk that the person wearing the mask can infect other people. So a TB suspect or a TB patient, if possible, should wear a mask when moving from one part of a hospital to another. Health workers often wear a mask for protection against TB, e.g. when working on the TB ward. In fact, a mask is generally not very good at protecting the person wearing the mask from inhaling other people's infectious droplets. The exception is when the health worker is supervising a cough-inducing procedure, e.g. bronchoscopy or sputum induction using nebulized hypertonic saline. HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter masks can prevent the inhalation of very small droplet nuclei. However, HEPA masks have certain drawbacks. They are very expensive, have to be fitted correctly to be effective, and need to be changed regularly.
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