Airborne Illness & Disease

Although there is no sure way of completely evading airborne illness and disease, there are five easy ways to prevent the spread of airborne illness and disease in your community: 1) get vaccinated, 2) isolate yourself when sick, 3) cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, 4) wash your hands properly, and 5) eat healthily and take multi-vitamins to boost your immune system.

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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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During the lifetime of an average person, they can contract a number of airborne illnesses starting from a very young age. This can range from the common cold, to curable diseases such as chickenpox and measles, and more severe illnesses like pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Out of all of these, tuberculosis is often the most dangerous, causing millions of deaths worldwide.

Most airborne diseases tend to affect the respiratory system, causing congestion of the sinuses or lungs, coughing or sneezing, fevers, sore throats, and itchy eyes. The bacteria and viruses responsible for these diseases are typically carried in saliva and mucus.

When a person sneezes or coughs, they emit a spray that can travel as far as 15 feet! The droplets in this spray or mist are easily inhaled by others nearby, thus transmitting the virus to them as well. Airborne illnesses are most commonly spread in enclosed areas containing a large amount of people in close contact.

This typically includes places such as schools, daycare centers, airplanes, offices, and even hospitals. It is worse in buildings with unsanitary conditions or little to no ventilation. For these reasons, many third-world countries or stuffy buildings with poor airflow are areas of high risk for contracting airborne diseases.

Although there is no sure way of completely evading airborne diseases, there are several steps that we can all take to minimize the risk of contracting them:

  1. One of the first things is to ensure that you and your children are vaccinated appropriately. If someone in your immediate area is sick, try to avoid contact with them.
  2. Isolation is a technique used successfully in hospitals to limit the spread of contagions.
  3. When coughing or sneezing, it is best to use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose. This will prevent spraying germs into the air. If you do not have a tissue, simply sneeze or cough into the inner crook of your elbow. The main point of this is to prevent getting germs on your hands, since they can then be spread to other people or surfaces through contact.
  4. Make sure to wash your hands properly with soap if you are sick or have been near a sick person. This is especially important before eating or rubbing your eyes since it prevents germs from entering the eyes, nose, or mouth.
  5. Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of giving your body an adequate amount of nutrition. Eat healthy foods, or take vitamins to help the immune system stay strong enough to efficiently fight off any invading viruses.

Be careful in areas that are prone to the spread of airborne diseases. For example, if you are travelling, keep a small bottle of antibacterial gel with you to ensure that your hands are as clean as possible.

If you have children, even at an early age teach they can be taught how to properly cover their nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing. Equally importantly, discourage them from sharing food, drinks, and utensils with other children. They should know not to put random objects in their mouths, and how to wash their hands.

Teaching children about these points is essential since kids often pick up illnesses at school and then transfer them to parents and siblings.

Airborne Illnesses/Diseases


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