WARNING: Coughs and Sneezes Travel Much Further than Expected!

9 Jul

Researchers have known for some time that coughs and sneezes travel quite a distance. You have probably seen slow motion videos showing the huge droplet mist caused during a sneeze. Well, new research conducted by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows that coughs and sneezes have associated nearly invisible gas clouds that travel much further than previously thought. According to Dr. John Bush, a Professor of Applied Mathematics at MIT, “When you cough or sneeze, you see the droplets, or feel them if someone sneezes on you. But you don’t see the cloud, the invisible gas phase. The influence of this gas cloud is to extend the range of the individual droplets, particularly the small ones.” The new research shows the smaller particles travel between 5 to 500 times further! Even more shocking is that because particles are suspended in a gas, they are much more likely to be picked up by air circulating systems such as heating and air conditioning vents. This can spread “germs” throughout an entire building, just about instantly. Oh the horror!!! Or is it?
The first thing to understand is while this research is new, the distance traveled by sneezes and coughs is not. In other words, “germs” from sneezes and coughs have been suspended in small gas clouds that travel large distances and possibly through heating and air conditioning vents since there have been sneezes, coughs, and vents. Researchers (and you and I) knowing about it is the only thing that is new. So, two things are clear. (1) Knowing about it does not mean more people will get sick and (2), which is the most important, this is just further evidence that “germs” are everywhere. Everyone breathes them in constantly. If you are breathing “germs” in all day, and germs make you sick, then why aren’t you constantly sick?
The answer is quite simple. Germs will never be eradicated, and they should not be. They are an essential part of our ecosystem. Beyond living in a bubble, you are always going to be in contact with germs. So, the best way to deal with “germs” is to make sure your immune system is functioning to your genetic potential. This is because “germs” easily invade a body with a weak or weakened immune system, take hold, and make that person sick. On the contrary, “germs” are easily fought off by a strong, well functioning immune system. This is why), holding all other factors constant, people who do not get enough sleep, drink excessively, smoke cigarettes, have high stress levels, and eat a poor diet (loaded with processed food and sugar) are more likely to get sick when exposed to the same “germs.” Even worse, their sickness can be worse and last longer which is all the more reason to focus on the things you can control like diet, sleep, and stress reduction.

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