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Is Sneezing Into Your Elbow the Healthy Thing to Do?

woman sneezing into her elbow
Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

Most of us have been taught to cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze, but for the last five years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been trying to persuade kids to cover their convulsive expulsions with their elbows, instead of using their hands.

Is this method for keeping those sometimes violent and gross explosions from being catapulted into thin air really more effective in preventing the spread of germs?

It just might be.

According to the children’s health site GermyWormy, not only do kids put their grubby little paws on nearly 300 different surfaces in about 30 minutes while they are at school, but they touch their mouths frequently, most without ever considering running to the restroom to wash up after a coughing or sneezing fit.

While using your elbow seems to be a good alternative to using your hands, some naysayers claim that the elbow doesn’t always catch all of the germs contained within a sneeze, which allows for more of those dirty little boogers to be scattered all over the room.

With deviant little diseases like the swine flu floating around, the best probable solution is to simply follow the recommendation of the CDC by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, and then toss the tissue in the garbage.

Health officials say that it is easier to get sick from exposure to an uncovered cough than contaminated surfaces.


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