Thursday, May 23, 2024

‘Respiratory Hygiene Essential In Reducing Infectious Diseases Spread’

Respiratory hygiene is an essential part of medical practice that helps to reduce the free spread of infectious diseases, according to Olufunke Adeyeye, a Professor of Medicine and a Pulmonologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja.

The Head, Department of Medicine/Respiratory Unit, LASUTH, said respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette are terms used to describe infection prevention measures meant to decrease the transmission of respiratory illness including influenza and cold viruses.

The Pulmonologist said the hygiene entails not spitting everywhere, not coughing anyhow, and covering one’s mouth when coughing, sneezing and yawning.

She noted that spitting into a tissue in one’s hand and disposing of it hygienically is a good example of respiratory hygiene, adding that such practice would help to contain the spread of infectious diseases in the country.

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According to her, “We must know that droplet infections like sneezing, coughing; spitting everywhere and all forms of respiratory manipulations can lead to widespread infections. When we spit inside tissue and or sneeze covering our mouths will reduce the diseases in the air.

“What you are doing when covering your mouth or coughing into a paper is limiting the contents of your chest to yourself and not putting it out in the air for others to pick freely.

“When we do this openly, the droplet of whatever we have in our bodies will go to air and another person will pick it. Hence, respiratory hygiene includes hand washing and we may be using face masks when we feel we will expose ourselves to infections.”

Speaking further, a Consultant Chest Physician and Professor of Medicine at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Gregory Erhabor, said respiratory infection is spread when a person who is infected with a virus coughs or sneezes.

The droplets released from an ill person’s cough or sneeze can travel for several feet reaching the nose or mouth of others and causing illness, he said.

According to him, “Viruses can spread easily from person to person through direct contact via touching or shaking hands. Droplets can also live for a short time on a variety of objects in the environment such as bed rails, door knobs, wheelchairs, or patient care equipment where they can be touched by another person.”

Erhabor, who is also the former President of the Nigerian Thoracic Society, said because some individuals cough without having respiratory infections, no one knows who is infectious or not.

“Therefore, respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette are very important components to protecting yourself from illness and preventing others from becoming ill. Like hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene is part of the standard precautions that should be taken to prevent the spread of disease,” he added.

However, Chief Nursing Officer at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, Joy Mbonu urged the masses to always wear disposable gloves, eye protection and fit-tested respirators when visiting health facilities.

Pan American Health Organisation said the use of face masks during outbreaks of viral illnesses such as the coronavirus disease 2019 has only been shown in scientific studies to be effective for protecting healthcare workers and reducing the risk of sick patients spreading the disease.

Based on that evidence, the Pan American Health Organisation and the World Health Organisation recommend the use of face masks to curb infectious diseases globally.

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