Cough Etiquette: Why It’s So Important
If you’re sick, there are polite, considerate and safe ways to manage your symptoms, while also protecting those around you. Follow these tips for good cough etiquette.
If there were ever a perfect time to practice good hand hygiene and cough etiquette, it’s now. We’ve found ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic that has crossed paths with cold and flu season.
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Before coronavirus, it was normal to go to work or school with a mild cough or runny nose. But these days, the slightest sniffle is bound to raise alarm from those around you. We’re all keenly more aware than ever before just how easy it is to spread germs.
Here’s what you need to know if you find yourself coughing or sneezing.
If you’re feeling under the weather, the most important thing you can do is stay home and avoid carrying your germs to school, work or anywhere else. If you’re already in public and find yourself coughing or sneezing, it’s critical that you wear a face mask (but you already knew that and were wearing one, right?).
A face mask is going to reduce the rate of your respiratory droplets going out into the open air and reaching and infecting others. It protects both yourself and those around you.
Typical cough etiquette without a face mask includes the guidelines below and should still be practiced at home:
“When you cough into the air, you can actually send germs as far as 3 to 6 feet in front of you,” explains infection disease specialist Frank Esper, MD. “And if you cough into your hands, you could transfer germs from place to place when you touch something else.”
Serious respiratory viruses are commonly spread by unclean hands and touching your face after touching contaminated surfaces. So it’s incredibly important to wash your hands and to always cover up your cough or sneeze, preferably with a face mask.
More hygiene etiquette tips for when you’re sick:
And if you’re feeling under the weather – please please please stay home (or keep your kids home from school). You’ll be doing your part to slow the spread of colds, the flu and COVID-19 if you just stay home and rest.
When in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution, especially if you’ve been in contact with someone who has already been sick. Stay home from school or work and call your doctor ahead of time before going in for an appointment.
Flu symptoms can include:
COVID-19 symptoms can include: