Posts Tagged ‘cough’

Sneezes and Coughs Travel Farther than You Think

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

sneezes cough travel farther

Imagine a cloud of gas launching from your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough. According to new research, this is exactly what happens, allowing particles from sneezes and coughs to travel up to 200 times farther than previously thought.

The study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology showed that the droplets produced when we cough or sneeze are accompanied by “gas clouds” that enable them to traverse greater distances. As a result, coughs and sneezes are far more capable of spreading viruses than scientists had thought. 

“When you cough or sneeze, you see the droplets, or feel them if someone sneezes on you,” study co-author Dr. John Bush, a professor of applied mathematics at MIT, said in a statement. “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.”

Bush described a cough or sneeze as a “multiphase turbulent buoyant cloud,” because the cloud mixes with surrounding air before the liquid droplets fall out, evaporates into solid residue or both. The study was recently published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics.

For the experiment, researchers used a combination of high-speed imaging, mathematical modeling and laboratory simulations, which allowed them to analyze the fluid mechanisms behind coughs and sneezes. Contrary to previous belief, each mucus droplet from a cough or sneeze is connected through interaction with a gas cloud. While previous research suggested that larger drops travel farther than smaller drops because they have more strength behind them, the MIT investigators found that when droplets merge with the gas cloud, their trajectories are altered. 

Droplets that are 10 micrometers in diameter were found to travel 200 times farther than past estimates, while droplets 100 micrometers in diameter traveled five times farther. (more…)

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Bad Breath Triggered by Colds

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

bad breath cold pnd

In the thick of cold and flu season, getting sick can come with an odorous side effect: bad breath.

It’s already difficult to detect your own foul breath, and when your nose becomes clogged, it becomes even trickier. However, I have talked to a handful of spouses who can tell that their loved one is getting sick based on the stench of their exhalations.

There are several ways breath gets fouled by a cold. Most of the time, the culprit is a combination of post-nasal drip and cough, according to experts at the Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource Center. When an individual catches a cold, the body quickly begins to expel foreign matter – in this case, bacteria or viruses – through mucus production. The yellowish mucus, which normally runs out the front of your nose in the form of runny nose, now thickens and drips down the back of the throat. With this mucus building in the back of the throat, the mouth becomes a breeding ground for halitosis.

Congestion can also spur another issue. When we have a stuffy nose, we tend to sleep with our mouth open, which severely dries the palate and causes repugnant morning breath. Doctors point out that inhaling and exhaling this zaps the mouth of saliva – typically a natural cleaning agent – and makes your breath susceptible to odor-causing sulfuric bacteria. During colds, a dry mouth harbors these smelly bacteria on the tongue, gums and cheek.

Furthermore, a cough complicates cold-related halitosis. Since the reflex occurs when the throat and lungs are exposed to irritants, post-nasal drip can play a role in triggering it. Coughing not only drags up stale, ammonia-smelling air from the lungs, but also continues to parch the throat, mouth and palate.

Other incidental aspects of being sick can worsen halitosis. Drinking thick, syrupy cough medicine can leave breath smelling bitter. Constantly eating savory foods, like chicken noodle soup, may create a film of oil on the teeth, which can result in more odor-causing bacteria.

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