Do you cover sneezes, coughs properly?

It may seem like a silly question. Most of us are taught by our parents to politely cover our mouth when coughing and the mouth and nose area when sneezing. It’s one of those common courtesies that we engage in so automatically that we barely think about it. But health experts say that is exactly the problem.

Add it to Lindsay Lohan's list of transgressions. According to health experts, she's covering her sneeze incorrectly. AP Photo/David McNew, Pool

Add it to Lindsay Lohan's list of transgressions. According to health experts, she's covering her sneeze incorrectly. AP Photo/David McNew, Pool

In order to reduce the spread of infectious germs, experts recommend not sneezing or coughing into your hand. All this does is transfer the germs to your hand, and unless you wash your hands immediately before touching a doorknob or other object, you will spread the germs to those items. Instead, experts recommend ‘the Dracula’ approach, which is to sneeze and cough into your elbow, as if you are drawing up your arm in a cape. Handkerchiefs are another option, though regular cleaning would be essential, otherwise you would just be carrying around a germ rag in your pocket or purse.

A study done by medical students found that most people do attempt to cover up a sneeze or cough when in public, but most use their hands to do it. With the rise in flu epidemics throughout the world in recent years, experts hope small steps such as properly covering sneezes and coughs will help prevent an airborne explosion of infectious germs.

So fess up, do you use your hand to cover coughs or sneezes, or do you use a handkerchief or take ‘the Dracula’ approach? Will you change the way you cover your sneezes or coughs? Are there other ways people carelessly spread germs in public?

20 comments Add your comment

Rickster

July 13th, 2010
3:06 pm

Generally, I use the sleeve on the inside of my left elbow. If I’m wearing a t-shirt, I’ll just lift the collar over my mouth and nose and sneeze inside the shirt.

Jimmyz

July 13th, 2010
3:13 pm

I alway sneeze into my elbow-learned that at an early age. There are two things that creep me out though.

First is not washing your hands in a public restroom, especially one that still has flush handles. Let’s see, you just handled your private parts, then grabbed a handle that has been held by who knows how many other people who have also just handled their privates, and you’re now going to go back out into the world without even a rinse?

The second is one that may just be a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but I still have to wonder how sanitary it is. Restaurants have all kinds of rules about how the kitchen staff has to wear hair nets, gloves, use sanitizer, etc, but they still let the wiat staff stick the folder with your check in it down the back of their britches, walk to your table with it, pull it out, and toss it on the table.

I’d just as soon not handle something that someone else has been sticking down their pants all day long, thank you.

Decatur Taliban

July 13th, 2010
4:30 pm

I’m ol’ skool; I cough into my hand and go about my business. What does it matter?!! Also, probably about 70% of men don’t wash our hands after we use the restroom. We’re super germy/ nasty.

AL

July 13th, 2010
5:53 pm

For most of my life, I’ve covered my mouth with my hands, but now that my kids are being taught to sneeze/cough into their elbows (and it makes sense!), I’ve started to do that also. When I’m holding something, I try to sneeze into my shoulder.

That is *nasty*, Decatur Taliban! And it’s nothing to be proud of either…

Michael Becker

July 13th, 2010
6:07 pm

At LifeSouth Community Blood Centers we train our LifeSouth Team AND OUR BLOOD DONORS to use the DRACULA

Michael Becker

July 13th, 2010
6:09 pm

At LifeSouth Community Blood Centers we train our lifeSouth team AND OUR BLOOD DONORS to use the DRACULA method…appropriate, yes? We ARE in the blood business! :)

Jo

July 13th, 2010
6:12 pm

I am all about the “Dracula” cough or sneeze. Love that the schools are teaching it as protocol. It’s gotta start early. To go along w/Jimmyz’s gross outs, what about the driver who won’t let go of the steering wheel and sneezes all over it and the windshield. Or in a restaurant when the straw comes to your table already “peeled” and sticking out of your drink. Who did that? Where have they been? Only problem about “Dracula” approach to sneezing/coughing for ladies is that just applied perfect lipstick goes on a sleeve—-even if it’s a little bit, it’s still hard to get out of fabric.

Decatur Taliban

July 13th, 2010
6:57 pm

“That is *nasty*, Decatur Taliban! And it’s nothing to be proud of either”

Just telling you what happens in the real world. If you guys and girls want to march to the government’s mandated politically correct beat that’s your business and only your business, not mine.

[...] the right and wrong technique for covering up whilst sneezing and coughing we came across this article from Joy Johnston from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution – Hope you find it [...]

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Skip

July 14th, 2010
5:35 am

So, what do you do? Walk around with dried-up boogers and snot on your sleeve all day? That’s attractive. Just the thing for an important business meeting.

Jo

July 14th, 2010
3:38 pm

Seriously “Middle Schooler” Skip? Let’s just say the grown-ups know if they have a cold to grab that Kleenex to put their “business” in!

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Peter

July 21st, 2010
10:36 pm

Reminds me a gym etiquette. Keep yourself clean. Bacteria spreads and affects others!!

http://www.stayfitbug.com/the-fitness-bug/gym-etiquette-follow-these-rules-or-else/

[...] Associated PressMany People Still Not Covering Coughs, SneezesRedOrbitTelegraph.co.uk -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -kjrh.comall 258 news [...]

Elderly care

August 11th, 2010
12:36 am

It’s amazing how long children were told to cover their sneezes with their hands. It never made sense to me.

Kevin

August 26th, 2010
10:21 am

I use the so called “Dracula Method” of covering my sneezes and sometimes it doesn’t work very well. Sometimes I get caught be a sneaky sneeze and I don’t care my arm to my face and the hand is a bit more convenient. Of course, I immediately wash my hands.