Growing number of frontline workers are experiencing chronic pain from PPE

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EDINBURG - There is an emerging issue in the healthcare community associated with Personal Protection Gear, PPE, and it is literally giving healthcare workers headaches.

What we have found is that the continuous use of PPE, that is the protection equipment that we use, the personal protection equipment has exacerbated… having the novel, like new onset of chronic headaches,” DHRhealth Board Certified Neurologist, Gloria Simms said.

According to the Journal of Head and Face Pain, a study was done on a group of healthcare providers and around 80 percent of the people they interviewed who wore medical grade PPE for more than four hours would develop painful headaches.

It’s not only the mask, it’s the type of mask and it’s the other equipment like the googles, and some other equipment that we put with pressure around our heads that’s definitely being an extra burden,” she said.

Dr. Simms says combining those stressors with the feeling of overheating from equipment up to 12 hours a day is not healthy nor is it normal.

Proper hydration is very important. A cooling down period when we are exposed to higher temperatures, very important. Trying to keep a good sleep, trying to avoid longer periods of time fasting,” she explained this as a few options to prevent headache pain.

Though it is not a life threatening health condition, experts say preventative treatment is best.

Headache is the second leading cause for disability at [a] young age,” Dr. Simms shared.

Medical experts say whether you are a frontline worker or not, if you are experiencing chronic headaches from heavy PPE gear, it is best to seek individualized treatment.


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