There isn’t a vaccine or cure for the common cold.
The best way to prevent catching a cold is to wash your hands, because anything you touch may be covered in cold germs.
Watch a sneeze in slow motion and you’ll understand why it’s so important to cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze!
The physics of a sneeze
The above video shows a “sneeze cloud” in great detail. An MIT physicist, Lydia Bourouiba, PhD, studies the fluid dynamics of sneezing and published her research (including this video) in 2015.
She describes a sneeze (or cough) as a “violent emission” that spews out infectious mucus and saliva at 100 miles per hour.
If you’re standing within range of a sneeze, which is farther than you might think, it’s likely you’ll inhale some of that infected mess.
Otherwise, the germs land on top of every surface in a room, where they can survive for hours or longer outside of the body.
Just imagine a room full of sick people, all coughing or sneezing. Or an airplane. Or a classroom. It’s no wonder colds and flu and other airborne diseases (whooping cough, meningitis and strep throat, to name just a few) spread so easily and quickly.
The most considerate sneeze
None of us can help the occasional public sneeze, but we can be more thoughtful and minimize making other people sick.
⇐I like this public health campaign poster from World War Two.
Rather than sneezing into a handkerchief or tissue, however, the current recommendation is to sneeze into your elbow.
Because then you don’t use your hands and risk getting them all germy, too.
Even the biggest elbow can’t contain all the germs, so always wash or sanitize your hands after you sneeze.
And remember to wash your hands a lot during cold and flu season, because germs are on everything!
Oh, and get a flu shot, too. 🙂
Image: Public domain