Everyone sneezes. We could be suffering from allergies, a cold, or a dislodged spec of dust or sand in our nostrils. Nonetheless, when we sneeze, we also expel thousands of our own bodily fluids. We are taught to sneeze covering our mouths with our arms for a good reason: to prevent the spread of illnesses. However, some Mercer students from freshman to seniors still often neglect this simple act of disease prevention. Here are four things that happen when you don’t cover your mouth, or sneeze into your hands.
- You’re still spreading germs into the air.
According to Time magazine, “A typical sneeze can travel 100 m.p.h. and spew countless germs into the air.” A hand can halt a few of the germs in the bodily fluid. But when we sneeze, it’s not just liquid we are expelling. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, there’s a gas of bacteria we leave behind, and as we’ve learned from physics, gases travel much farther and faster than liquids.
Another reason using your hands to cover up a sneeze is discouraged is the force behind a sneeze drives some of the particles into the cracks of your fingers. In other words, the sneeze can slip through your fingers.
If you go into the caf and sneeze into your hand, you’re doing a disservice to your fellow Mercerians. The best way to make sure you’re not spreading your illnesses to the rest of us is to cover your mouth with your elbow.
- You’re covering your hands in germs, too.
Stopping the germs from polluting the air with your hand doesn’t mean you’ve stopped them from spreading. When you sneeze into your hands without washing afterwards, you are bound to spread the germs to other objects, such as doorknobs, borrowed pencils, computer lab keyboards and other people’s hands, according to the CDC.
- People lose respect for you.
Sneezing into your elbow is not only a hygienic act, but it’s an act of kindness. It’s saying that you care about the safety and wellbeing of other people and do not want to make them sick.
- You can still get people sick — even if you just have allergies.
You’ve probably sneezed mindlessly into the air due to an allergic reaction, thinking that your germs “aren’t valid” and you can’t get anyone sick. However, according to Healthline, while allergies themselves aren’t contagious, having an allergic reaction weakens your immune system. This in turn makes you more susceptible to other diseases you could be sharing with your sneezes.
If you want to be a better Bear, cover your mouth — and NOT just with your hands. Simply place the crook of your elbow over the entirety of your nose and mouth and sneeze. Let’s be considerate of other people’s health and make Mercer clean again.