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Headache from respirator?

Joined
Jul 14, 2014
Messages
233
Spent about 6 hours in the shop and now I have a splitting headache again. It's been like this for quite awhile. If I'm doing something that doesn't require a respirator then no headaches. If I spend more than 4 hours in it I get this throbbing headache. Respirators a 3m, half face, dual cartridge. I use the pink 3m cartridges that have both a particulate filter and an activated charcoal filter for gas. Current ones seem to be fine a as far as not restricting air flow, seals right to my face, can't smell chemicals or anything I'm grinding or sanding while I have it on. Anyone have an experience like this or have an idea for a solution? The respirator seems to be the variable that causes it. Any help is greatly appreciated because I just tough it out but it sure makes the work less enjoyable.
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2015
Messages
29
Just a guess, but do they start sort of at the base of your skull? I have gotten those a few times, both from looking down and having the strap tight across the back of my neck. I have a neck injury making me more susceptible to that type of headache but that is what I would guess is causing it. For instance, a mora classic worn as a neck knife for 30 minutes will start one for me.
 
Joined
Jun 10, 2003
Messages
15,288
It's very possible to be allergic to something in that mask. Almost impossible to find all the ingredients. Best thing is to get another brand and try it . It's foolish to continue to use the one you have.
 

Rhinoknives1

Gold Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2013
Messages
32,440
It does sound like the pressure or the materials are bothering you.

I have one of these. Resp-O-Rator Dust Respirator Model JR-7 You do have to keep your jaw closed or you drool a lot. That comes natural for some of us anyway! ;) I love it. I can talk to people and answer the phone quite easy and then just pop it back in my mouth.

I don't bother with the dorky nose clip. Just don't breate through it or only out.
 
Joined
Sep 10, 2000
Messages
4,787
Could it be you are being oxygen staved created by not changing the filters often enough and usually visible with your face becoming red.
Frank
 

john april

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Feb 27, 2006
Messages
5,186
do you wear glasses ? my respirator causes my glasses to sit higher up on my nose, therefore i have to look down at a sharper angle to see through the center of the lenses. it gives me neck/head fatigue.
 
Joined
Dec 8, 2014
Messages
814
I have a full face respirator, and if I have to bend over and have my neck hanging down, it gives me a bad headache.
 

Rick Marchand

Donkey on the Edge
Moderator
Joined
Jan 6, 2005
Messages
9,630
The falf-face pushed on all the wrong spots for me. I switched to full-face and have never looked back. The half-face also caused dust to deflect up under my glasses... Not to mention the false sense of security it gives you for fine particulate. Chemicals just as easily get in through your eyes. This forces you to wear goggles.... and I have yet to find a comfortable pair of those. So why not get a full-face?

If it is indeed a weight issue(looking down), you may want to look into adjusting your grinder height.
 
Joined
Jul 14, 2014
Messages
233
Thanks everyone for the replies. Well, no allergies to that I know of, cartridges are good. I wonder if it isn't like some if you said and it's the pressure that does it. I have to have it pretty tight to seal. I do wear glasses but the headaches come with or without them. Maybe full face is the way to go. Are they hot to wear? No ac in the shop so it gets toasty. I'd rather deal with that then these headaches however. Wince from moving my eyes to the side after I've been out there all day.
 

SVTFreak

Gold Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2011
Messages
5,052
Used to wear them working outside loading hcl trucks and cars. still use them in my shop occasionally but not for any long periods. If I wore them too tight, I would get headaches. Loosened them up to just seal and much better.

They don't need to be gorilla tight. Inhaling on negative pressure masks will help the seal
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2015
Messages
29
I understand with the full face masks, that you should spend the extra on replaceable lens protectors to protect the investment since the lenses aren't replaceable and the mask is nearly $200. at least the 3m one I'm saving for.
 
Joined
May 3, 2008
Messages
1,429
One thing I do is not breathe deeply, because I'm concentrating, and you should if anything breathe deeper, so as to suck in some good fresh air. That's enough to give you a headache.

Always thought the full face ones are the way to go, except for one thing- I count on being able to see really well when grinding and polishing, and it seems like those full face shields would be good for about ten minutes before getting dusty, and then when you clean them would get instantly scratched to the point of distraction.
Is this true?
 
Joined
Jul 24, 2015
Messages
1,852
Fwiw, at the workplace OSHA regs. require a medical evaluation to verify if one is healthy enough to even use a filter respirator.
As a filter, it is a restriction of breathing, your respiratory systen is stressed to use.

Your headache could be just pressure from the straps...

Being bearded, I use a mouthbit style when needed. It works well, but can be a slobbery mess.
When stationary at the grinder or buffer, is a forced air system. Of course thats beyond alot of guys desires or ability.
 
Last edited:

Rick Marchand

Donkey on the Edge
Moderator
Joined
Jan 6, 2005
Messages
9,630
Is this true?
Nope... Full face is the way to go. I am on the same lens, with the same lens protector film. I wash it by hand every week and never wipe the lens without soapy water. My 3M 1600 is over 5yrs old.

That said, I also use the "resp-o-rator" from time to time... specially when my beard is long.
 
Joined
Sep 6, 2013
Messages
486
I have the same 3m half face respirator. Where that strap sits on the back of your head is in an area called the occipital triangle. Your greater occipital nerve runs right through three muscles that form a triangle. Often times when people get a "tension headache", it is caused by irritation and/or fatigue to the muscles in that area which in turn irritate that nerve. I'm almost positive that your headaches are due to your head strap being too tight, but I'm only In my third year of med school so take my advice with a grain of salt, but I have seen a lot of patients with similar issues from welding helmets and hats and such. I don't think it's allergic. The only other thing I think it could possibly be is what frank said, you aren't changing your cartridges often enough. Try loosening it up and maybe wearing a hat under it or something. On the bright side, you can bet that those tension headaches are a lot better than pneumoconiosis or mesothelioma!
 
Last edited:

Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

ilmarinen - MODERATOR
Moderator
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Aug 20, 2004
Messages
34,119
I have used many types od respirators over the years, and a full face Supplied Air Respirator is the way to go. It hurts a little when buying it, but the pain goes away when you start wearing it :)

In response to your question about the half-face unit. Long wearing of these can cause a headache for several reasons:

One is that smelling any chemical for hours will cause a headache. The rubber smells. Maybe not bad, but it has a volatile content that is breathed in. Six hours may be enough to give you "painters headache" ( from breathing the volatiles of paint).

The second reason is that you have to breathe harder when wearing a respirator. It isn't a lot harder, but it may slowly change your blood chemistry after many continuous hours. Additionally, you are rebreathing a much higher percentage of expelled breath than normal. This is higher in CO2, than a room filled with fresh air.Changes in oxygen and increased CO2 levels level will cause a headache.
Filters need to be changed often. You may not think they are blocked, but as they are used, they become less able to pass air through them as well as the charcoal becomes saturated with contaminants and no longer filter gasses. The industry standards vary, but in high dust situations, they are changed every 40 hours. I think every 100 hours is a good idea. Most knifemakers do one of two things, the change them yearly, or never. If you get three hours shop time with the respirator on a week, you should change it yearly. If you get six hours in a day, you need to track your use and change the filters at least monthly.


Third is the weight and position issue. The half face mask may make you lower your head more to see over the mask, thus causing positional headache. The added weight will acerbate this.

Last, and most likely in your case, muscle tension can cause a real bad headache. The strap being tight across your head and neck, as well as the inability to move your jaw for hours can lead to a tension headache.

One other possibility is that you are sensitive to mold and mildew. Most people are to some degree. This is a primordial inherited trait to keep us alive and out of places where you will get sick. The most common form of reaction to this trigger is a headache.
The mask is filled with moisture from your breath and sweat, dead skin cells, some of the bratwurst you had for lunch, maybe a bit of beer, and grinding dust on the outside. This can get a bit musty at the least, and moldy at the worst. That mustiness can trigger the histamine reaction that makes us want to leave an area with the trigger. Normally, you leave a musty room pretty soon after entering. If the musty room is strapped to your face for six hours, it could quite likely cause a headache. A respirator should be washed well with soapy hot water weekly, and dried fully on open air before being put away. It is best not to store it in a sealed bag.

The cumulative effect of all these may combine to cause your headache, so dealing with as many of them as possible is a good idea.
 
Joined
Jul 14, 2014
Messages
233
Thanks everyone for the replies. From Stacy I learned I need to replace my filters. No way to see in there to check. Tried to get an old one apart once but you'd have to cut it. I'm not gonna admit how long I've had those on there. Thanks for the info that it needs to be changed once a month and for taking the time to make the detailed response. Duly noted and appreciated. A full face will be in my future when I can afford it.

And Tkrocky I looked up some info about the occipital nerve and I think you're right on the money. Symptoms include pain behind the eyes, pain moving the neck, and pain starting at the base of the head and radiating up the scalp. That pretty well fits what I had going on to aa T. Loosened the strap around the back and there's a big improvement now that the days over. Not completely gone but barely there either. Tolerable at least until I get the full face respirator.
 

Rhinoknives1

Gold Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2013
Messages
32,440
do you wear glasses ? my respirator causes my glasses to sit higher up on my nose, therefore i have to look down at a sharper angle to see through the center of the lenses. it gives me neck/head fatigue.

http://www.amazon.com/DEWALT-DPG82-11C-Concealer-Anti-Fog-Safety/dp/B000RKQ1NI/ref=sr_1_3?s=hi&

I have great results with these Dewalt Safety googles. I wear eye glasses and these fit comfortably over them for heavy grinding & chemical/Hardwood grinding to keep the crud out of my eyes and to protect the $200-300.00 eye glasses.
 

Daniel Fairly Knives

Full Time Knifemaker
Moderator
Joined
Jan 9, 2011
Messages
16,013
...Kind of off the subject but i went to the Dentist a while ago for tooth pain and the first thing he asked me was if I used a CPAP machine or any sort of respirator!

He told me to buy a new one (mine was a year old) and stop cranking the band so tight., Tooth pain went away... :D
 
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