How to Protect Yourself and Others From a Cough


Have you ever cringed when someone else coughed in the same crowded elevator you’re in? Do you wish that you were in a safe bubble when the person you’re sitting next to is sniffing and blowing their nose?

When you don’t know the cause of the cough or colds, you will probably have a thought nagging at the back of your mind. You’d wonder, “Will I be coughing in the next few days, too?”

Shoo, cough, shoo!

Getting a cough is not something to sneeze at. It is uncomfortable, to say the least. You feel under the weather and it seems that all you want to do is curl up in bed and wish that it will go away fast.

Coughing is the body’s reflex reaction for clearing the air passageway of any obstruction, which could be bits of food, dust, or other irritants such as smoke. However, a persistent cough can be a cause for distress as it can be a sign of other, more serious health conditions. If the cough lasts for more than four weeks in children or eight weeks in adults, then it is time to see the doctor.

A tickle at the back of the throat can be a sign of dry cough while a more productive cough is called wet cough. Wet coughs produce an excess of sputum and may indicate a respiratory tract infection. Phlegm tends to become too thick and sticky and blocks the airways, making it difficult to breathe.

Some chesty cough symptoms include a rattling sound (especially when breathing in or during bouts of coughing), tightness in the chest, and coughing that is more pronounced in the morning.

(Don’t) Catch Me If You Can

Not all coughs are contagious, but it is important to identify the cause of the cough. If bacteria, virus, or another microorganism that causes a disease causes the underlying condition, then a cough can be a method of transmission through airborne droplets.

In a study conducted by the Queensland University of Technology, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, and The Prince Charles Hospital, researchers found that bacteria-carrying droplets expelled by coughs and sneezing stay in the air for 45 minutes. It can also travel for up to four meters from the source.

With this in mind, it is prudent to practice preventive measures to stop the spread of pathogens, especially when you know that the cause of the cough is infectious. Here are some of the ways you can protect yourself and others from catching a cough:

1. Stay away from sick people

If you know that a person has a contagious condition such as the common cold, it is best to stay away from them for the time being. Coming into close contact can be a quick way to catch the cold or cough, especially when you know you have a weak immune system.

2. Stay home

Conversely, if you are afflicted with a contagious cough or cold, it is best to stay away from people and just rest at home. When you have other people in the house, try to steer clear from common areas and, if possible, stay in your bedroom to avoid passing it on.

Avoid shaking hands, hugging, or kissing as respiratory secretions can also spread the pathogens through these actions.

3. Avoid touching your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth

Make sure to avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with dirty hands. Tell your housemates to also do the same, especially if it is unavoidable that you are within the same vicinity.

Viruses that cause colds can enter the body through these channels.

4. Use a tissue and disinfectant

It is best to use a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then dispose of it properly.

Also, have a disinfectant handy. This is particularly useful when wiping off surfaces that are touched frequently such as remote controls, doorknobs, or toys.

5. Wash your hands

One of the most effective ways to stop the spread of germs is by washing hands with soap and water.

After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose, wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds. Do the same especially when you’ve just come from the bathroom as contact with stools can also get one infected.

If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based sanitizer to disinfect your hands.

Say goodbye to cough

It is best to practice preventive measures to avoid catching the cough, colds, or flu. By taking these precautionary steps, you help protect yourself or others from getting infected and assailed by the pesky cough.

Should the unfortunate incident happen and you still unavoidably catch the cough, fret not. There are chesty cough treatments available that can help you breathe easily and be cough-free as soon as can be.

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