Prevent The Spread Of Germs: Turn Your Head To The Right & Cough…

by Lynnette

Cold And Flu, Germs And Bacteria, Sneezing

Do you cover your mouth or cough in your arm?

An observation: There seems to be this new thing where people cough into their arm!

Perhaps you already know about it, or maybe you’ve already been doing it for years.

I may just be the last to know about this healthy new way to prevent the spreading of germs from a cough…


When Did Coughing Into Your Arm Begin?

Here it is 2005, and I’m wondering when we moved from: covering your mouth with a cupped hand to: shoving your bent arm to your face, so as to effectively cough into your elbow.

I first noticed people doing it at BlogNashville. At which point I dismissed it as: “I’m not sure, but I think he might also be gay… so that must just be something ‘they’ do” (…not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Then I saw someone else at the conference do it… and I happened to know for a fact that this 2nd gentleman was not gay …so that whole theory was shot to pieces!

My next theory: “This must be something computer geeks do!” This was, after all, a room full of Bloggers — people who are in the know about a lot of things. If there’s a new trend or fad, you can bet that Bloggers will know about it first.

So then I was left thinking: “Hmmm…. I wonder why computer geeks have chosen this cough-into-your-arm-thing as their universal symbol of coolness?”

The next weekend, I’m at Kohl’s and I notice that the cute little girl behind the counter did it… she actually coughed into her arm!

At this point, I’m out of theories.

Besides this entire town having the croup or something… with all this coughing… I was stumped that I was so far out of the loop on this one.


Everybody’s Doing It!

sneeve-sneeze-by-dicmackay.jpgI obviously had a lot to learn…

I’ve since been told that coughing into your arm is the safest way to prevent the spread of germs.

I eventually noticed that this idea had spread far beyond my little community. It does, in fact, appear that coughing into your arm is “a preferred method of promoting good hygiene.”

Who knew? Not me.

Elmo’s even encouraging children to cough into your arm sleeves, not your hand. And it’s actually considered “flu etiquette” these days.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it appears that you should be covering your mouth with your elbow from now on.

Others Citing Reasons To Cough Into Your Arm:

Sneeze or cough into a tissue, not your hands. Germs cling to your hands, and sneezing into them results in passing along your germs to others. Use a tissue to catch germs and then throw it away immediately. If a tissue isn’t available, sneeze into the upper arm of your sleeve. When outside, turn your head to the side and sneeze into the air.  Source: Thomas Osborne, M.D.


Sneeze and cough into the crook of your arm, not on your hands. We’ve all been raised to politely cover our mouths when we sneeze or cough. This is an effective way of preventing the spray of germs into the air around us. However, the next thing we touch or pass to another person carries them on. By using the crook of the arm, we limit the spread by air and contact.  Source: Joann Flora, Acupressure & Nutrition Counselor


UPDATE: I continued to cover my mouth with my hand, as opposed to my elbow, for quite some time. I couldn’t help but think the other way just looks silly. But now I realize coughing into your elbow is the right thing to do.

Here’s how to properly cough or sneeze into your sleeve.