Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew that covering coughs and sneezes was essential to reduce the spread of germs. While sneezing and coughing may not always be linked to a serious illness, they can be symptoms of the flu and COVID-19. Protect others around you by practicing proper coughing and sneezing etiquette.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), serious respiratory illnesses like the flu, RSV, whooping cough and SARS are spread by coughing, sneezing and unclean hands — whether by touching your face after touching contaminated objects or touching objects after contaminating your hands. To reduce the spread of germs, the CDC recommends:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- If you find yourself without a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve rather than your hands
- Move away from people if you feel you have to cough or sneeze
- Put your used tissue in a wastebasket
After coughing or sneezing, wash your hands immediately with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol. Viruses can live on your hands, so regular hand-washing can make a big impact in preventing germ spreading.
Person-To-Person Germ Spread
According to the CDC, it’s thought that both the flu and coronavirus spread mainly through person-to-person contact, predominately when an infected person is showing the most symptoms, but it’s possible that the virus could be spread before an infected person has symptoms.
These illnesses move from person to person through respiratory droplets that enter the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Once airborne, these droplets then enter other people via their mouth or nose. This is why proper coughing and sneezing etiquette is especially important now as we try to contain viruses.
What are Some of the Common Symptoms of COVID-19?
Sneezing more than usual can be a sign of COVID-19 in people who’ve been vaccinated, but typically not in those who are unvaccinated. Whatever variant of coronavirus is experienced, symptoms are similar yet vary from person to person, from mild to severe:
Most common symptoms:
- Dry cough
- Aches and pains
- Loss of taste or smell
- Rash on skin, or discoloration of fingers or toes
- Sore throat
- Chest pain or pressure
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Loss of speech or movement
Milder symptoms in those who are vaccinated:
- Runny nose
- Stuffy nose
These symptoms typically develop between two to 14 days after a person is exposed to the virus, and they can last from a few days to a few weeks.
Seasonal Allergies or COVID-19?
As the weather changes, many people experience new symptoms. The good news is most of the symptoms of these two conditions don’t overlap. Read more about the differences between allergy symptoms and coronavirus symptoms here.
Tips to Protect Others From COVID-19
In addition to practicing safe sneezing and coughing etiquette when you’re ill, you can also help protect others with the following tips:
- Avoid hugging, kissing or shaking hands
- Disinfect common surfaces, such as doorknobs, television remotes and countertops
- Get your seasonal flu vaccine at your primary care physician’s office or an AdventHealth Centra Care urgent care location
- Stay at home when you don’t feel well
More Information on COVID-19 Symptoms and Development
We’re here for your family’s whole health through all the ups and downs of the pandemic. For more information and updates on COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub.