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Coughing and Sneezing Etiquette

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

My 9-year-old son likes to bug his older sister by sneezing at her from across the room. I will not allow him to sneeze at anyone at close range. Maybe I should teach him manners about sneezing, but I am not sure what to say except to cover his mouth.



Dear Annoyed,

Your son may think it is funny to sneeze at his sister, but his germs can contaminate the whole room. Sneezing blasts out 100,000 bacteria at speeds from 100-600 miles per hour and can spray out 100 feet (Bell report at

Tell your son to avoid passing germs by sneezing or coughing into a tissue or napkin. If a tissue is not handy, then his sleeve will do, just sneeze into his bent elbow. The reason to not cover your mouth with your bare hand is to avoid contaminating the hands and then transferring germs to others by shaking hands or by touching surfaces and objects.

Below are tips to avoid spreading germs and viruses as well as good coughing and sneezing etiquette.

Coughing and Sneezing Etiquette & Hygiene

1. Turn away from people when about to cough or sneeze.

2. Always cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing with a disposable tissue. If a tissue is not readily available, then use your sleeve near the elbow or upper arm.

3. Throw the tissue away immediately.

4. Wash hands with soap and water or clean hands with alcohol based sanitizers such as wipes or gels.

5. What to Say: the person sneezing may say, "Excuse me" after a sneeze, while someone who is near the sneezer may say "Bless you!"