Kleenex is out, disposable arm bands are not yet de rigeur, so what’s the alternative when you just have to sneeze or cough? Use your sleeve, that’s what. It’s the most effective way to reduce the spread of cold and flu viruses. Coughing into the open air without covering your mouth simply releases a myriad of viral and bacterial particles into the air around you. If there’s no one else around that’s not so bad, but just picture those droplets of spittle and snot flying in the video we’re going to show you here and you’ll think again.
Perhaps worse than open-air sneezing is inappropriate Kleenex use. If you don’t cover your nose and mouth properly then you might as well not bother. Coughing or sneezing into your hand is worse still. Germs will contaminate your hands, you touch a door knob or handle food and those germs get transferred to the next person who touches said objects. The video, which comes from the Maine Medical Association suggests your sleeve is the way forward. Cough or sneeze on to your sleeve and the germs will simply dry out and die.
It’s not just a matter of avoiding the sniffles, if we’re heading for a major viral epidemic from bird flu or something worse then the advice in this video could save lives. Listen to what the panel of experts – Polly Morph, Graham Stain, Blood Hagar – have to say. There’s a useful science fair project that can help you answer the question, “Does covering your mouth stop germs spreading?” and if you’re after more advice on how to avoid colds and flu check out the Sciencebase FAQ on the subject.
For advice on how to stop a sneeze, check out this site.