All of us were raised to know that covering our noses and mouths when we cough or sneeze – was the right thing to do. It was a regular part of our lessons in politeness and courteousness.
So – as the Aaaaaaachooooooooo approaches ……all of us……….with the years of reminders and admonishing playing in our minds - .automatically galvanise our hands …the fingers and the palms into action.
Our hands have an important mission ……they are rushing to contain the snot and phlegm and keep it from raining onto everyone and everything around ……. and with good reason
Colds spread from person to person by droplet infection.
The “Droplets” that spread the infection – are droplets of snot and phlegm loaded with the cold virus.
These droplets come out at a tremendous velocity when an infected person coughs or sneezes because of the force of the sneeze or cough.
Because of their great velocity – these virus laden droplets travel great distances and allow the virus to attack every susceptible person around. And so - covering up - is definitely the wise thing to do.
However - when hands are used to cover up – and contain the mess – they do get some amount of snot and phlegm on them and become virus laden themselves.
When these hands touch door knobs or taps and other objects - they deposit the virus there. The next unsuspecting pair of hands touching that door knob or tap thus gets infected and infects the hand owner.
It is possible to prevent the cold virus from spreading by ensuring frequent hand washing – as I said in my previous article – but how often can you get children to wash their hands?
It is therefore better to teach children another technique to cover up.
It is now recommended that the CROOK OF THE ELBOW be used to contain coughs and sneezes instead of hands – by children and adults alike.
Infected droplets that get onto the crook of the elbow are unlikely to travel further because the crook of the elbow is unlikely to touch objects that other people touch. The virus in the crook of the arm can therefore go no further.
Of course it is really important to ensure that the shirt or the jacket that the person has worn be put in to be washed at the end of the day.
Sneezing into the crook of the elbow - is called the “Sleeve Sneeze” and can go a long way in keeping colds from spreading – so let’s do it.