Weekly Wellness: The Truth about Coughing & Sneezing

2 months 3 weeks 14 hours ago Monday, November 04 2019 Nov 4, 2019 Monday, November 04, 2019 1:01:00 PM CST November 04, 2019 in Weekly Wellness
By: Amanda Barnes, KOMU 8 Wellness Coach
loading

COLUMBIA- ‘Tis the season… for sneezing and coughing and illness (oh my!) It seems that everywhere we go we are around someone who is sniffing. At work, in a coffee shop, on an airplane. Enclosed spaces – eek! So, when do we need to worry about our own health when around someone who is seemingly ill? How far can germs be spread when people sneeze and cough?

There are a few modes of transmission:

Large droplet transmission: This refers to the droplets sick people expel when they cough, sneeze, or talk. If someone else inhales those secretions, they can get sick, too. Illnesses like the flu, the common cold, and pertussis (whooping cough) are thought to mainly spread this way.

Airborne transmission category: Illnesses like measles, tuberculosis, and chickenpox are in this category. Unlike large droplets, which need to quickly come into contact with someone’s mucous membranes in order to cause an infection, airborne transmission allows potential pathogens to remain suspended in the air for some time after someone coughs, sneezes, or talks. Then someone else can breathe in those particles and get sick.

Both at the same time: Some illnesses can infect people via both forms of transmission. For instance, the flu mainly spreads through large droplets, but the CDC notes that it can be airborne as well.

So, how far can germs actually make it through the air? There are really only estimates regarding how far germs can travel – depends on how forcefully a person can cough or sneeze.

Large respiratory droplets containing pathogens like influenza can travel up to 6 feet when a sick person coughs or sneezes, according to the CDC. A 2014 study by MIT scientists published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics suggests this number may be way higher for smaller airborne particles. Researchers used high-speed video upwards of 1,000 frames per second to record sprays of mist as well as human coughs and sneezes, finding that smaller droplet particles traveled as far as 2.5 meters horizontally through the air. That’s more than 8 feet. (The study also recorded smaller airborne droplets spraying 13 to 20 feet vertically in the air, which researchers noted was theoretically high enough to enter and travel through some ceiling ventilation systems in some buildings.)

The problem with airborne pathogens isn’t just how far they can spread, it’s also how long they can hang out in the air and on objects. Measles, for instance, can live for up to two hours in the air and on surfaces, according to the CDC. This illness is so contagious that 90 percent of people who are close to a person with measles but who aren’t immune (like through vaccinations) will catch the illness.

What can we do to prevent getting ill from the coughers and sneezers around us?

  • Wash your hands! Soap and water are most effective at preventing transmission of illnesses like the cold and flu. Also keep alcohol-based (60% alcohol) hand sanitizer at the ready for the times you can’t wash your hands.
  • Try to avoid touching areas like your mouth, nose, and eyes, since those are possible portals for pathogens.
  • If someone around you is sick, the CDC advises avoiding close contact if at all possible.
  • Disinfect common surfaces (like doorknobs) often.
  • Keep your immune system strong with adequate sleep, proper food and managing stress.

If you ARE sick, what can you do to not share your germs?

  • Cover your face when you sneeze and cough – but don’t use your hands! The CDC recommends coughing or sneezing into a tissue and then throwing it away, or sneezing into your upper shirt sleeve or elbow, completely covering your nose and mouth.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. (Especially if you slip up and cough or sneeze into your hands.)
  • Try to keep your distance from people (including staying home from work if you can).
  • Frequently disinfect surfaces you’re always touching.

Let’s do what we can to get through this flu season unscathed!

(Source: https://www.self.com/story/germs-sneezing-coughing)

 

 

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA- Singing, dancing, and speaking were all part of The Cultural Association of India's annual India Day celebration Saturday afternoon.... More >>
7 hours ago Saturday, January 25 2020 Jan 25, 2020 Saturday, January 25, 2020 5:05:00 PM CST January 25, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA— Officers with the University of Missouri Police Department arrested John T. McLiney, 19, on one count of... More >>
8 hours ago Saturday, January 25 2020 Jan 25, 2020 Saturday, January 25, 2020 4:00:00 PM CST January 25, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The Choral Arts Alliance of Missouri is holding its 5th Annual Unity Concert. The goal of the event... More >>
8 hours ago Saturday, January 25 2020 Jan 25, 2020 Saturday, January 25, 2020 3:53:00 PM CST January 25, 2020 in News
FULTON - About 20 Fulton YMCA members kicked the cold Saturday by bundling up and running in the 4th annual... More >>
8 hours ago Saturday, January 25 2020 Jan 25, 2020 Saturday, January 25, 2020 3:48:00 PM CST January 25, 2020 in News
BOONVILLE — The third annual Superfinn Autism Foundation Guns and Hoses Event was hosted at Boonville High School Saturday. ... More >>
9 hours ago Saturday, January 25 2020 Jan 25, 2020 Saturday, January 25, 2020 3:10:00 PM CST January 25, 2020 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA- More than 100 people showed up for the 7th annual ROC 7K Trail run at Cosmo Park Saturday morning.... More >>
9 hours ago Saturday, January 25 2020 Jan 25, 2020 Saturday, January 25, 2020 3:04:00 PM CST January 25, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA – Dozens of veterans showed up to All American Dental for free dental work Saturday. Leroy Strube, a... More >>
10 hours ago Saturday, January 25 2020 Jan 25, 2020 Saturday, January 25, 2020 2:04:00 PM CST January 25, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The Como Shorts Filmmaker Showcase hosts multiple local artists this weekend to present their films. The showcase... More >>
10 hours ago Saturday, January 25 2020 Jan 25, 2020 Saturday, January 25, 2020 1:54:00 PM CST January 25, 2020 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - The CoMo Short Showcase highlights local filmmakers and their original work in the community. The goal is... More >>
19 hours ago Saturday, January 25 2020 Jan 25, 2020 Saturday, January 25, 2020 4:45:00 AM CST January 25, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - A hearing has been set for Joseph Elledge on Feb. 3 at 3:00 p.m. at the Boone County... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 24 2020 Jan 24, 2020 Friday, January 24, 2020 8:02:00 PM CST January 24, 2020 in News
BOONVILLE – With the closing of Pinnacle Regional Hospital in Boonville, it will likely take longer for emergency officials to... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 24 2020 Jan 24, 2020 Friday, January 24, 2020 7:50:00 PM CST January 24, 2020 in News
BOONVILLE (AP) - Missouri is planning to cut more than 1,700 beds at prisons across the state. Department of... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 24 2020 Jan 24, 2020 Friday, January 24, 2020 6:47:00 PM CST January 24, 2020 in News
GUTHRIE TOWNSHIP - Deputies have one suspect in custody in a murder investigation. The Callaway County Sheriff's Office said there... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 24 2020 Jan 24, 2020 Friday, January 24, 2020 5:41:00 PM CST January 24, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Students avoided slick roads after the University of Missouri closed campus on Friday. The school alerted students... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 24 2020 Jan 24, 2020 Friday, January 24, 2020 2:07:00 PM CST January 24, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - After a heavy snow fall Thursday night, Susan Stephenson received notifications that Columbia Public Schools would not be... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 24 2020 Jan 24, 2020 Friday, January 24, 2020 1:28:00 PM CST January 24, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia Public Works Street Division will start plowing and treating all city streets at 1... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 24 2020 Jan 24, 2020 Friday, January 24, 2020 12:08:00 PM CST January 24, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Boone Electric Cooperative is reporting outages affecting nearly 5,000 customers Friday morning. The outages are reported across... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 24 2020 Jan 24, 2020 Friday, January 24, 2020 10:22:00 AM CST January 24, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Officials with University of Missouri announced campus is closed Friday due to weather. The university earlier announced a... More >>
1 day ago Friday, January 24 2020 Jan 24, 2020 Friday, January 24, 2020 5:29:00 AM CST January 24, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 28°
1am 28°
2am 28°
3am 28°
4am 27°