Common Cold Prevention: Why It’s Important to Cover Your Cough


Little boy covering his mouth while coughing

A recent PediaCare article provided helpful tips on handwashing habits and how to make handwashing more effective and fun for kids. While washing the hands is a key part of any good hygiene routine for illness prevention, it’s certainly not the only way to keep from getting sick. This article will describe why it’s so important that kids cover their mouths and noses after coughing and sneezing, as well as other useful common cold prevention strategies.

Colds can strike at any time of the year, so it’s best to be prepared and protected for them, especially with little ones around who are prone to spreading germs.

Cover Your Cough

One of the best ways to prevent sickness from spreading through a household is to cover your cough. When a child coughs, droplets filled with germs enter the air and can be spread to other people nearby. It is best to sneeze into a paper tissue rather than a cloth handkerchief to prevent the spread of cold germs. But if there is no tissue nearby, the best way to cover a cough is to place the mouth into the inner elbow to release it. Then make a point to promptly wash that shirt! Avoid coughing into the hands and then touching objects or other people with those contaminated hands. Covering coughs is also good etiquette and a polite practice that children should learn.

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Cover Your Sneeze

Covering sneezes is also a good habit to get into, whether those sneezes are due to allergies, a cold, or just a simple environmental reaction. Mucous and germs are released into the air with each sneeze, and some sneezes are more toxic than others. Always place used tissues into a trash can after each use, rather than reusing them multiple times. After sneezing or blowing the nose, children should wash their hands immediately to clean off any mucous residue.

Other Common Cold Prevention Tips

It is also a good idea to teach kids to avoid touching their faces or putting their hands in their mouths, not only when sick, but at all times. Another illness prevention tip is to keep household surfaces clean and to wipe them down after playtime to reduce the spread of germs that linger on surfaces. Parents, caregivers, and teachers should also wash children’s toys regularly to prevent colds. Using paper towels in the bathroom and kitchen can be more sanitary than cloth towels, especially when a member of the household is sick.

Why Should Kids Take Vitamins?

Another healthy way to prevent sickness in children is to provide vitamins to make up for nutritional deficiencies. Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet is a great way to prevent future colds, but some kids are picky eaters or have food allergies. To make up for these dietary gaps, vitamins can help supply young bodies with the nutrients they need to support a well-functioning immune system. A child’s pediatrician should be consulted about questions regarding over-the-counter cold remedies, as well as recommended vitamins that are needed. Some children can benefit from an age-appropriate daily multivitamin, while other healthy children get the vitamins and minerals they need from food alone.

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