• Featured News

    Infectious Diseases: Teaching children cough etiquette

a young Asian girl who might be sick with a cold or the flu, is coughing into her elbow

As children around the nation get ready to return to the classroom, there is one important lesson they should learn at home. It's called cough etiquette, and it can reduce illness. "When we talk about cough etiquette, we mean covering your cough," says Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic. "It's something parents can talk to their children about at an early age."

Watch: Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse explains cough etiquette.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse are in the downloads at the end of the post. Please "Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network."

"The best way often is coughing into your elbow or sneezing into your elbow, especially if you don't have a tissue. This decreases the number of germs that you get onto your hands and decreases your risk of spreading them to other people," says Dr. Rajapakse.

And it's important to teach your children to stay healthy by encouraging them to wash their hands frequently. Parents can guide their child's behavior by showing the child how it's done.

"We want to teach kids to sneeze into their sleeve or elbow instead of directly onto their hands ... because that decreases their risk of transmitting the infection to others, but in general, also if they do that, they should still be washing their hands," says Dr. Rajapakse.

Always wash your hands with warm soap and water after:

  • Using the toilet
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Before and after preparing food
  • Touching an animal, animal feed or waste
  • If your hands are visibly dirty

Related posts: