Cough and sneezing Etiquette

Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases

Cover Your Sneeze or Cough

Proper washing of hands after coughing and sneezing

Cover Your Sneeze or Cough
Germs are expelled into the air whenever you sneeze or cough. To prevent the spread of infection:

  • Turn away from the other people before coughing or sneezing.
  • Cover your mouth or nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Discard the tissue in the trash.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve—not your hands.
  • Always clean your hands after coughing or sneezing.

Disinfect Germ “Hot-Spots”
Take these steps to ensure your home is a healthy place for your recovery:

  • Disinfect commonly touched hard surfaces in your home like countertops, door handles, sinks, tabletops, phones, TV remotes and baby changing tables.
  • Products such as sprays and wipes that are labeled “disinfectant” are designed to kill a broad spectrum of harmful bacteria and viruses that other cleaners cannot. Follow the directions on your disinfectant’s label to maximize the benefits.
  • Use a clean, dry cloth or paper towel to clean and dry all surfaces. Wiping surfaces with a dirty dishcloth, sponge, or towel will only spread germs.
  • Never share toothbrushes, combs, drinking glasses, utensils, razor blades, face cloths and bath towels. Germs can be passed from person to person on these personal items.

These tips are designed to help you on your road to recovery. Share this information with your family and friends. Help spread the word that everyone plays an important role in infection prevention.

 Clean Your Hands!

Clean hands are the best protection against spreading germs and preventing infection. You should clean your hands:

  •  Whenever they are visibly dirty.
  • Before you eat, and before touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
  • Before and after preparing food.
  • After contact with blood or body fluids, using the restroom, touching animals and pets, or changing diapers.

Proper Hand Washing
Use soap and plenty of running water if your hands are visibly soiled:

  • Wet hands with warm water and work soap into a lather.
  • Rub your hands vigorously for 15 seconds or longer. Get in between fingers and scrub wrists.
  • Rinse your hands with warm running water and pat them dry with a clean towel.
  • Use a clean paper towel to turn off the water faucet, and discard it in a trash can.

Proper Use of Hand Sanitizers
Use a hand sanitizer for routine hand cleaning only if your hands aren’t visibly dirty:

  • Apply the hand sanitizer to the palm of one hand.
  • Rub your hands together until they’re dry, making sure the sanitizer covers every spot on your hands and fingers.
  • It should take about 15 seconds to rub your hands dry. If not, you didn’t apply enough hand sanitizer.
Wash your hands and make sure that everyone who touches you—including your doctor, nurse, family and friends—washes their hands too.

Help prevent the spread of airborne infections among staff, patients and visitors with our ‘Cover Your Cough’ poster. Our “Cover Your Cough” Poster Reduces Infections by:

  • Encouraging staff, patients and visitors to use tissues to cover their cough or sneeze and to properly dispose of them when used.
  • Demonstrates the use of coughing or sneezing into the upper arm sleeve when tissues are not immediately available.
  • Reminds everyone about the importance of good hand hygiene
  • Instructs individuals with a cough and fever that they should see a doctor and that they may be asked to cover their nose and face with a mask.
  • Great for flu season!
  • Perfect for waiting rooms, rest areas, public corridors, classrooms and the cafeteria.


 Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette in Healthcare Settings

To prevent the transmission of all respiratory infections in healthcare settings, including influenza, the following infection control measures should be implemented at the first point of contact with a potentially infected person. T hey should be incorporated into infection control practices as one component of Standard Precautions.

1. Visual Alerts

Post visual alerts (in appropriate languages) at the entrance to outpatient facilities (e.g., emergency departments, physician offices, outpatient clinics) instructing patients and persons who accompany them (e.g., family, friends) to inform healthcare personnel of symptoms of a respiratory infection when they first register for care and to practice Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette.

2. Respiratory Hygiene/ Cough Etiquette

The following measures to contain respiratory secretions are recommended for all individuals with signs and symptoms of a respiratory infection.

  • Cover the nose/mouth when coughing or sneezing;
  • Use tissues to contain respiratory secretions and dispose of them in the nearest waste receptacle after use;
  • Perform hand hygiene (e.g., hand washing with non-antimicrobial soap and water, alcohol-based hand rub, or antiseptic handwash) after having contact with respiratory secretions and contaminated objects/materials.

Healthcare facilities should ensure the availability of materials for adhering to Respiratory Hygiene/Cough Etiquette in waiting areas for patients and visitors.

  • Provide tissues and no-touch receptacles for used tissue disposal.
  • Provide conveniently located dispensers of alcohol-based hand rub; where sinks are available, ensure that supplies for hand washing (i.e., soap, disposable towels) are consistently available.

3. Masking and Separation of Persons with Respiratory Symptoms

During periods of increased respiratory infection activity in the community (e.g., when there is increased absenteeism in schools and work settings and increased medical office visits by persons complaining of respiratory illness), offer masks to persons who are coughing. Either procedure masks (i.e., with ear loops) or surgical masks (i.e., with ties) may be used to contain respiratory secretions (respirators such as N-95 or above are not necessary for this purpose). When space and chair availability permit, encourage coughing persons to sit at least three feet away from others in common waiting areas. Some facilities may find it logistically easier to institute this recommendation year-round.

4. Droplet Precautions

Advise healthcare personnel to observe Droplet Precautions (i.e., wearing a surgical or procedure mask for close contact), in addition to Standard Precautions, when examining a patient with symptoms of a respiratory infection, particularly if fever is present. These precautions should be maintained until it is determined that the cause of symptoms is not an infectious agent that requires Droplet Precautions

NOTE: These recommendations are based on the Draft Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings. Recommendations of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC), CDC.

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