People Sneeze in Exam Rooms

Let’s be more sanitary.

By Kevin RR Williams

DECOR No one wants to talk about it, even though we can't really help it. Sneezing is an involuntary bodily function. It protects our bodies by clearing the nose of bacteria and viruses, Neil Kao, MD, an allergy and asthma specialist at the Allergic Disease and Asthma Center in Greenville, S.C. explains. When something enters our nose or we encounter a trigger that sets off the "sneeze center" located in the lower brain stem, signals are rapidly sent to tightly close our throat, eyes, and mouth. Next, our chest muscles vigorously contract, and then our throat muscles quickly relax. As result, air — along with saliva and mucus — is forced out of our mouth and nose. We sneeze. [1]

Facts About Sneezing

Blame it on the common cold, hay fever, influenza or lack of home training. Outside the watchful eye of medical professionals, sick patients cough and sneeze without always covering their mouths when left alone to change into a gown. A typical 100 mph sneeze can aerosolize 100,000 germs along with the nasal irritants. [1,2]

We are thankful when that unsavory spray is not directed in our face. But what happens when aimed toward a hanging paper anatomy poster? The unprotected paper becomes saturated with germs — contaminated, perhaps with no one the wiser. After the doctor visit, a nurse changes the paper on the examination table and tidies the room for the next patient. But the filth on that poster remains, possibly accumulating more contamination until a doctor decides to refer to it, possibly touching it to elucidate a diagnosis. Okay, I'll stop being gross. But this can and likely does happen. We all need better hygiene in doctors' offices.

Let's Keep It Clean


There is a simple solution. Encapsulate paper posters with lamination and quality constructed DeuPair™ Frames. This two-stage defense provides UV protection to extend poster life. It also makes it possible to feature different posters without removing the frame from the wall. And what's most important? It provides a surface that can be disinfected by wiping away germs. Should the clear film become scratched or damaged, it can easily be replaced, again, without removing the frame from the wall.

So as patients, what can we do to promote good hygiene? Carry a handkerchief or pack of tissues if we don't want to sleeve-sneeze please into the elbow of our designer clothing. In the absence of the former, when we're wearing an expensive suit, cover mouths with the old standby — our hands. But this will need to be followed up with immediate hand washing. And if we happen to be in the doctor's office and see unprotected paper human anatomy posters hanging on the wall (or none at all), kindly direct them to Store.ClinicalPosters, where numerous, properly finished anatomy posters are available. Spread the word, not the germs.

Tags: antiseptic, cleaning, cleansing, disinfecting, hygienic, uncovered mouths

  1. 11 Surprising Sneezing Facts. ^
  2. Achoo! 150 reasons why you should have a hankie at the ready. ^
  3. Image by StockInRoll licensed from iStock Photo.