What Do You Say When Someone Coughs
When someone coughs, it can cause us discomfort. We may feel embarrassed because we’ve coughed our germs into something and now the person has them. Or maybe we’re afraid of getting sick from the other person’s germs. But what do we say when they finish? The best thing to do would be to smile at the person politely and say thank you. That should get rid of any concerns on your part.
And if you are the one who is coughing, don’t worry about being contagious. Even though you might be sneezing or hacking up phlegm, you aren’t actually spreading viruses through your saliva or droplets — unless you are spitting directly into another person’s face! Viruses spread when people touch their faces (or objects with viruses) and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. So you could potentially make yourself more susceptible to a virus if you spit into your hand and then touch your own face instead of someone else’s. And even if you did touch their face, you’d only be transferring bacteria, which isn’t as dangerous as many types of viruses.
But regardless of whether you’re coughing or not, there are a few basic rules for how to respond to someone who coughs. It depends upon where you are and whom you’re speaking with. If you’re at work, you probably wouldn’t want anyone to notice you were upset by the sound of coughing. In most workplaces, that’s considered disruptive behavior. However, if you’re out shopping, perhaps waiting in line at a restaurant or walking outside in public, you might find that coughing helps drown out background noise so that others won’t hear anything over the sounds of cars driving by and people talking nearby. In this case, it’s probably OK to cough, but keep it short and inconspicuous.
For most situations, however, it’s generally better etiquette to simply wait until the coughing stops before responding. Try saying nothing at all. This will show respect for the person who is coughing without putting too much pressure on you to act immediately. Of course, if the person doesn’t stop coughing soon enough, you’ll need to intervene.
The next time someone coughs, remember these tips:
Smile. One of the nice aspects of living in an age of advanced medical technology is that everyone gets treated equally. People who cough are no less important than those who don’t cough.
Show kindness. Not only does showing kindness help to relieve tension and embarrassment, but it also gives the person who is coughing a reason to continue breathing. They know that it’s good manners to let them finish before interrupting them.
Wait a little longer. Yes, it’s rude to ignore someone who is coughing. But sometimes it’s necessary. Sometimes people cough because they’re suffering from allergy symptoms, food poisoning, asthma attacks or some other health problem. Often, they don’t realize that they’re having difficulty until they’ve been coughing for several minutes. In such cases, it’s kinder to allow them to breathe freely, rather than rushing in to rescue them right away.
Keep it short. Don’t get overexcited or defensive. Just listen quietly for a moment while they catch their breath. Then take a couple steps back and give them some space.
Don’t apologize. Unless you start coughing yourself.
Be sensitive. Some cultures consider coughing very bad luck. Other cultures regard it as acceptable to excuse oneself by claiming that one was overcome with emotion and needed a minute to compose himself.
In general, it’s always better to wait until the coughing stops before you speak. However, if you’re concerned about the person’s health, you can often tell them that you think they should see a doctor. In fact, if you’re worried about catching a cold or flu, you should call ahead and ask if they’ve received their vaccination.
On the following page, learn why you shouldn’t go around telling people to cover their mouths when they talk.
Coughing is caused by many different factors. A blocked airway causes mucus to build up, resulting in fluid buildup in the lungs. When the muscles surrounding the lungs tighten up, the result is a tight chest and forced respiration. Smoking cigarettes and second-hand smoke irritate the lungs, causing inflammation. Certain medications can trigger coughing fits. Asthma attacks can occur when the lining of the bronchial tubes becomes inflamed. Heart failure patients may experience coughing due to low blood oxygen levels. Emphysema sufferers may develop chronic bronchitis, which results in excessive mucus production. Cystic fibrosis patients produce thick mucus that is difficult to expel. Infection can cause coughing as well. Tuberculosis victims cough because of infections inside their bodies. Chemotherapy patients may suffer from dry coughs due to lowered immunity. Cancer patients may experience coughing due to the side effects of radiation treatment.
Cover Your Mouth
People used to believe that covering your mouth when you talked kept out disease-causing particles, since they thought that was the source of stifling odors. Now we know that covering your mouth doesn’t really accomplish this. What happens instead is that you block the passage of air through your lips, creating a vacuum effect that draws foul odors toward your mouth. So don’t bother keeping your mouth covered when you talk; instead, open wide when you eat or drink and exhale through your nostrils.
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