My family and friends all cough into their elbow rather than covering their mouth with their hand. They do so to save my husband’s life. Let me explain.
There’s talk every winter about not spreading coughs , colds and flu. Who hasn’t seen or heard the advice to cover coughs and sneezes to prevent spreading cold and flu germs? I have a special interest in infection control because my husband has chronic leukaemia which means that a cold or flu which might take most people a few days to get over can put him in hospital at best, or, at worst, kill him We meet up with many people who have weak immune systems, or live with someone who does. None of them can afford to take home a cold or flu either.
For years the advice on health posters has included a picture of a hand over the mouth and nose. Those posters make me feel like screaming because of the lack of commonsense in that concept. I have seen this on posters in buses, in doctors’ waiting rooms and in schools. A great way to spread germs to lots of people! Using that same hand to touch hand rails, money, hand grips, not to mention door knobs , ATM and eftpos keypads etc. will certainly pass on the germs to the next person to touch those things. Anyone who uses shared equipment such as phones, registers etc can infect the next user.
The absolutely best thing to do if you have an unexpected cough or sneeze is to use your elbow, shoulder or upper arm. You aren’t likely to use those to touch anything else.
A huge amount of germs have been found shared equipment or toys in classrooms and preschools so there is a risk to people like my husband in being around children. My darling grandchildren hear “cough in your elbow” not “cover your mouth” when they cough and are getting really good at remembering.
Providing everyone washes their hands when they get home my husband is pretty safe.
I wish there could be a campaign to spread the “cough into your elbow” message. After all, does anyone really want to catch a cold? Maybe some of the MoMs who read this could start a new trend in their area. If you would, you could be saving the lives of people you have never even met, but you would be as much of a hero to me as the people who donate blood to help strangers. Thank you.
Posted anonymously, 23rd June 2014