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Oxygen Deprivation Mask Syndrome (ODMS)

James Odell, OMD, ND, L.Ac.

In April 2020, the World Health Organization recommended the use of masks only for symptomatic, ill individuals and health care workers and did not recommend its widespread use. In June 2020, they changed this recommendation to endorse the general use of masks in, e.g., crowded places.1, 2 Many countries then blindly, without reliable research, adopted the requirement to wear masks in public spaces, making it commonplace in 2020. As in a meta-analysis study commissioned by the WHO, no clear, scientifically graspable benefit of moderate or strong evidence was derived from wearing masks.3

Another meta-analysis conducted in the same year confirmed the weak scientific evidence for masks.4 They concluded, “There is uncertainty about the effects of face masks. The low-moderate certainty of the evidence means our confidence in the effect estimate is limited, and that the true effect may be different from the observed estimate of the effect. The pooled results of randomized trials did not show a clear reduction in respiratory viral infection with the use of medical/surgical masks during seasonal influenza. There were no clear differences between the use of medical/surgical masks compared with N95/P2 respirators in healthcare workers when used in routine care to reduce respiratory viral infection. Hand hygiene is likely to modestly reduce the burden of respiratory illness. Harms associated with physical interventions were under-investigated.”

The mainstream media and the CDC have hyped the pandemic so much, including the next-to-harmless Omicron variant, that Americans are wearing their masks even when they are completely alone in their home, car, office, or walking and jogging outside. Children are forced to wear their masks all day at school, with minimal or zero mask breaks, even during recess. Some people are wearing their masks while exercising on cardio machines at the gym.

2021 research reveals that prolonged use of Covid masks, either homemade or N95, can cause anywhere from five to 20 percent loss of oxygen to the body, leading to hypoxia as well as hypercapnia (excessive carbon dioxide in the bloodstream).5

Several studies have now uncovered adverse health effects, some life-threatening, that mask-wearing can cause. Oxygen deprivation is one of the most concerning particularly in athletes and individuals with COPD.6, 7, 8, 9, 10 The effect on oxygen depletion is now called oxygen deprivation mask syndrome (ODMS).

Most important, hypoxia from mask usage is a serious concern for children whose brain is rapidly developing and needs a rich supply of oxygen.11 Not only in the pediatric field but the detrimental effects of mask-wearing are also an important consideration in obstetrics (fetal and embryonic development). Pregnant women are a vulnerable group for ODMS, and their unborn children could face profound dire consequences of risky mask use.

Research out of Brown University has found that children who are forced to distance themselves from others and wear a mask all day long at school suffer brain damage and significant declines in IQ. Their results highlight that “even in the absence of direct SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 illness, the environmental changes associated COVID-19 pandemic (mask and social distancing) is significantly and negatively affecting infant and child development.”12

In another study, researchers showed that wearing a mask cause significant detrimental physiological changes to multiple organ systems, including the brain, the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, and the immune system.13 Basically, they demonstrated that wearing a mask day in and day out can lead to alterations in blood chemistry (lowering blood pH due to elevated CO2), and that can lead to “changes in the level of consciousness if prolonged.”

Borovoy et. al further described how “hypercapnia is known to rapidly cause intracellular acidosis in all cells in the body. There is no way to wall off the damage to only affect the lungs, due to constant gas exchange. That is, there is no known way to restrict hypercapnic effects to only the lungs. The effects of hypercapnia progress in this order: Compensatory attempt at respiratory ventilation, labored breathing, hyperpnea; nervous system changes with changes in motor skills, visual acuity, judgment and cognition, cerebral vasodilation with increasing pressure inside the skull and headache, stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, resulting in tachycardia, and finally, in case of extreme hypercapnia, central depression.”

Thus, mask-related changes in respiratory physiology harm the wearer’s blood gases, decreasing O2 and increasing CO2, and therefore, have a negative effect on the basis of all aerobic life, external and internal respiration, with an influence on a wide variety of organ systems and metabolic processes with physical, psychological and social consequences for the individual human being.

People worldwide have reported numerous symptoms from ODMS, such as headaches, loss of concentration or brain fog, panic attacks, vertigo, double vision, tinnitus, alterations in blood chemistry, and even seizures.

Not only hypoxia, but there is ample evidence in the reviewed mask literature of potential long-term effects and direct short-term effects with increased mask-wearing time in terms of cumulative effects for carbon dioxide retention, drowsiness, headache, feeling of exhaustion, skin irritation (redness, itching), and microbiological contamination (germ colonization).14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

The eyes too are very susceptible to lack of oxygen for even short periods of time; particularly, the retina may be permanently damaged. Research shows systemic hyperoxia, hypercapnia, and hypoxia are known to alter retinal perfusion and can also damage the eyes.22 Hence, individuals with eye diseases are at greater risk from mask-wearing.

Dr. Margarite Griesz-Brisson MD, Ph.D. is a Consultant Neurologist and Neurophysiologist with a Ph.D. in Pharmacology, with special interest in neurotoxicology, environmental medicine, neuroregeneration, and neuroplasticity. This is what she has to say about masks and their effects on our brains:

“The rebreathing of our exhaled air will without a doubt create oxygen deficiency and a flooding of carbon dioxide. We know that the human brain is very sensitive to oxygen deprivation. There are nerve cells for example in the hippocampus, that can’t be longer than 3 minutes without oxygen – they cannot survive. The acute warning symptoms are headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, issues in concentration, slowing down of the reaction time – reactions of the cognitive system.

However, when you have chronic oxygen deprivation, all of those symptoms disappear, because you get used to it. But your efficiency will remain impaired and the undersupply of oxygen in your brain continues to progress. We know that neurodegenerative diseases take years to decades to develop. If today you forget your phone number, the breakdown in your brain would have already started 20 or 30 years ago. While you’re thinking that you have gotten used to wearing your mask and rebreathing your own exhaled air, the degenerative processes in your brain are getting amplified as your oxygen deprivation continues. The second problem is that the nerve cells in your brain are unable to divide themselves normally. So, in case our governments will generously allow us to get rid of the masks and go back to breathing oxygen freely again in a few months, the lost nerve cells will no longer be regenerated. What is gone is gone.” 23

The more metabolically active the brain is, the more oxygen it needs, and that is why it is absolutely horrifying for children to be wearing masks all day. Plus, their immune system is so adaptive they need “constant interaction with the microbiome of the Earth,” as the German neurologist put it.


This constant deprivation of oxygen, be it slow torture at 5% to 20% all day, is a clear and present danger to adults and especially children, and pregnant women. For children it inhibits their normal central nervous system development, creating potentially irreversible brain damage, including permanent neurological damage. This is the opposite of the value of going to school and learning.

Children should be unmasked. Knowing that masking can cause permanent long-term neurological damage and mandating this is nothing short of criminal. There is no unfounded medical exemption from face masks because oxygen deprivation is dangerous for every single brain. It must be the free decision of every human being whether they want to wear a mask that is ineffective to protect themselves or others from a virus that has better than a 99.9% survival rate.

Lastly, in protecting the health of their patients, doctors should also base their advice and actions on the guiding principle of the 1948 Geneva Declaration, as revised in 2017. According to this, every doctor vows to put the health and dignity of his patient first and, even under threat, not to use his or her medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties.24 The unfounded assumption of masks efficacy should be counterbalanced with the documented individual risks and unwanted effects for the patient and mask wearer concerned, entirely under the principles of evidence-based medicine and the ethical guidelines of a physician.


  1. World Health Organization. WHO-Advice on the Use of Masks in the Context of COVID-19: Interim Guidance, 6 April 2020; World Health Organization: Geneva, Switzerland, 2020; Available online: (accessed on 7 November 2020).

  2. World Health Organization. WHO-Advice on the Use of Masks in the Context of COVID-19: Interim Guidance, 5 June 2020; World Health Organization: Geneva, Switzerland, 2020; Available online: (accessed on 7 November 2020).

  3. Chu, D.K.; Akl, E.A.; Duda, S.; Solo, K.; Yaacoub, S.; Schünemann, H.J.; Chu, D.K.; Akl, E.A.; El-harakeh, A.; Bognanni, A.; et al. Physical Distancing, Face Masks, and Eye Protection to Prevent Person-to-Person Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Lancet 2020, 395, 1973–1987.

  4. Jefferson, Tom, Chris B. Del Mar, Liz Dooley, Eliana Ferroni, Lubna A. Al-Ansary, Ghada A. Bawazeer, Mieke L. Driel et al. "Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses." Cochrane database of systematic reviews 11 (2020).

  5. Kisielinski, Kai, Paul Giboni, Andreas Prescher, Bernd Klosterhalfen, David Graessel, Stefan Funken, Oliver Kempski, and Oliver Hirsch. "Is a Mask That Covers the Mouth and Nose Free from Undesirable Side Effects in Everyday Use and Free of Potential Hazards?." International journal of environmental research and public health 18, no. 8 (2021): 4344.

  6. Pifarré, Fernando, Diego Dulanto Zabala, Gonzalo Grazioli, and Ignasi de Yzaguirre i Maura. "COVID-19 and mask in sports." Apunts Sports Medicine 55, no. 208 (2020): 143-145.

  7. Kyung, Sun Young, Yujin Kim, Hyunjoong Hwang, Jeong-Woong Park, and Sung Hwan Jeong. "Risks of N95 face mask use in subjects with COPD." Respiratory care 65, no. 5 (2020): 658-664.

  8. Epstein, Danny, Alexander Korytny, Yoni Isenberg, Erez Marcusohn, Robert Zukermann, Boaz Bishop, Sa'ar Minha, Aeyal Raz, and Asaf Miller. "Return to training in the COVID‐19 era: the physiological effects of face masks during exercise." Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports 31, no. 1 (2021): 70-75.

  9. Mo, You, DunCan Wei, Qi Mai, Chongyue Chen, Hanguang Yu, Chaowen Jiang, and Xuerui Tan. "Risk and impact of using mask on COPD patients with acute exacerbation during the COVID-19 outbreak: a retrospective study." (2020).

  10. Beder, Alper, Ünase Büyükkoçak, Hakan Sabuncuoğlu, Zuhal A. Keskil, and Semih Keskil. "Preliminary report on surgical mask induced deoxygenation during major surgery." Neurocirugia 19, no. 2 (2008): 121-126.

  11. Schwarz, Silke, Ekkehart Jenetzky, Hanno Krafft, Tobias Maurer, and David Martin. "Corona children studies" Co-Ki": First results of a Germany-wide registry on mouth and nose covering (mask) in children." (2021).

  12. Deoni, Sean, Jennifer Beauchemin, Alexandra Volpe, and Viren D'Sa. "Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on early child cognitive development: Initial findings in a longitudinal observational study of child health." Medrxiv (2021).

  13. Borovoy, Boris, Colleen Huber, and Maria Crisleriii. "Hypoxia, hypercapnia and physiological effects." (2020).

  14. Ong, Jonathan JY, Chandra Bharatendu, Yihui Goh, Jonathan ZY Tang, Kenneth WX Sooi, Yi Lin Tan, Benjamin YQ Tan et al. "Headaches associated with personal protective equipment–A cross‐sectional study among frontline healthcare workers during COVID‐19." Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 60, no. 5 (2020): 864-877.

  15. Techasatian, Leelawadee, Sirirus Lebsing, Rattapon Uppala, Wilairat Thaowandee, Jitjira Chaiyarit, Chanyut Supakunpinyo, Sunee Panombualert et al. "The effects of the face mask on the skin underneath: A prospective survey during the COVID-19 Pandemic." Journal of primary care & community health 11 (2020): 2150132720966167.

  16. Lan, Jiajia, Zexing Song, Xiaoping Miao, Hang Li, Yan Li, Liyun Dong, Jing Yang et al. "Skin damage among health care workers managing coronavirus disease-2019." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 82, no. 5 (2020): 1215-1216.

  17. Ramirez-Moreno, José María, David Ceberino, Alberto Gonzalez Plata, Belen Rebollo, Pablo Macias Sedas, Roshan Hariramani, Ana M. Roa, and Ana B. Constantino. "Mask-associated ‘de novo’headache in healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic." Occupational and Environmental Medicine 78, no. 8 (2021): 548-554.

  18. Rebmann, Terri, Ruth Carrico, and Jing Wang. "Physiologic and other effects and compliance with long-term respirator use among medical intensive care unit nurses." American journal of infection control 41, no. 12 (2013): 1218-1223.

  19. Rosner, E. "Adverse effects of prolonged mask use among healthcare professionals during COVID-19." J Infect Dis Epidemiol 6, no. 3 (2020): 130.

  20. Shenal, Brian V., Lewis J. Radonovich Jr, Jing Cheng, Michael Hodgson, and Bradley S. Bender. "Discomfort and exertion associated with prolonged wear of respiratory protection in a health care setting." Journal of occupational and environmental hygiene 9, no. 1 (2012): 59-64.

  21. Zhiqing, Liu, Chang Yongyun, Chu Wenxiang, Yan Mengning, Mao Yuanqing, Zhu Zhenan, Wu Haishan et al. "Surgical masks as source of bacterial contamination during operative procedures." Journal of orthopaedic translation 14 (2018): 57-62.

  22. Kergoat, Hélène, Marie-Ève Hérard, and Marianne Lemay. "RGC sensitivity to mild systemic hypoxia." Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 47, no. 12 (2006): 5423-5427.

  23. This quote is a transcript of the highlights (by Henna Maria) from Dr. Margarite Griesz-Brisson’s recent video message, that was translated on-air from German into English by Claudia Stauber.

  24. WMA-The World Medical Association-WMA Declaration of Geneva. Available online: (accessed on 7 November 2020).


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