Cough Etiquette: A Guide to Preventing the Spread of Respiratory Diseases

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, students could go to school and adults could go to work and go about their usual routine even with a mild cough or runny nose.

Unfortunately, with the new coronavirus still an ongoing health threat, the slightest sniffle, sneeze, and cough can alarm the people around you and cause them to move away.

Because of this reason and the fact that simple hygiene practices can minimize your chances of aggravating your ailment and prevent others from getting sick, it is crucial to know and follow cough etiquette when you show flu, cold, and chesty cough symptoms.

The Importance of Cough Etiquette

When you have a cold or flu infection and you cough or sneeze, you release respiratory droplets.

These droplets have the cold and flu virus particles that can cause an infection if they enter another person’s respiratory tract by their nose or mouth.

Other people can also breathe in these droplets when you cough or sneeze in front of or near them.

Additionally, these droplets can land on another person’s hands. When they touch their face without washing or sanitizing their hands, they can get infected with your virus.

Lastly, the droplets from your cough or sneeze can also stick to hard surfaces where the virus particles can live for hours. When others touch them, they can inhale the germs and get sick.

Cough Etiquette: Rules to Remember

Below are the top cough etiquette rules you have to remember to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:

1. Always cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing

Use facial tissue to cover your mouth and nose every time you cough or sneeze.

If you don’t have tissue or handkerchief on hand, cough or sneeze into your elbow or upper sleeve. Doing so stops you from spreading your virus and prevents your hands from becoming contaminated with more germs.

2. Throw used tissue straight away

Dispose of all used tissue immediately in the nearest trash bin.

If you can’t find a trash receptacle, put your soiled tissue in a small plastic or paper bag, seal it thoroughly, and throw it away as soon as you see a trash can.

3. Avoid touching your face

Since cold and flu viruses can enter through your mouth, nose, and eyes, never touch your face after coughing or sneezing.

Do not touch the face of other people, especially your children’s, to avoid spreading germs.

4. Keep your hands clean

After coughing or sneezing, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wipe them dry with a clean paper towel afterward.

If you don’t have access to soap and water, rub alcohol or sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol all over your hands. Using these sanitizing products helps kill germs and viruses.

Additionally, wash or sanitize your hands after touching contaminated objects like doorknobs, countertops, and other surfaces.

5.  Avoid close contact with other people

If you are sick with colds or flu, stay in your room as much as possible. Avoid spending time in the living room, kitchen, and other areas where your family hangs about.

It also means staying away from your loved ones, even if they want to hug you or sleep in your bedroom.

Also, even if there is no pandemic, it is best to stay away from the office and other busy places when you have a cold or flu since you can spread germs to your co-workers and other people you get in contact with.

However, if you have no option but to go to work, stand at least a meter away from your co-employees and avoid any type of close contact, such as handshakes. If you have your own office, try to confine all your activities inside and do not allow anyone to enter or spend several minutes in your work area.

6. Sanitize surfaces frequently

Whether you are sick or not, sanitizing high-touch surfaces in your home can help keep germs at bay. Because of this, regularly disinfect doorknobs, kitchen and bathroom sinks, countertops, and other surfaces that people often touch.

Don’t forget to sanitize other high-touch items in your home, such as the remote control, telephone, light switches, and mobile devices, if you share those with others.

Use bleach or antibacterial dishwashing solution diluted with water to disinfect surfaces. You can also use a paper towel or clean cloth with alcohol to sanitize objects in your home.

Another option is to use a disinfectant spray to sanitize high-touch surfaces and objects.

7. Wear a face mask

Lastly, health experts recommend wearing a face mask during the new coronavirus pandemic to reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus.

You will also do well to wear a face mask when you have a cold or flu. Doing so reduces your risk of releasing contaminated droplets in the air and on surfaces, allowing you to protect others from your illness

As a final tip, focus on staying healthy even if you are feeling under the weather. Eat plenty of immunity-boosting foods high in vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and other nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and green tea. Also, drink more water to stay hydrated.

With these cough etiquette practices in mind, you can keep others from getting sick. You will also have an easier time getting your cold, flu, and cough under control.