How Powerful Are Coughs and Sneezes?

A cough can expel 3,000 droplets at 50 mph (80.5 km/h), while a sneeze can expel 100,000 droplets at 100 mph (161 km/h).
A cough can expel 3,000 droplets at 50 mph (80.5 km/h), while a sneeze can expel 100,000 droplets at 100 mph (161 km/h).

A Major League pitcher's fastball is nothing to sneeze at – but if you did, the race to the plate would be close. According to the American Lung Association, a human sneeze can travel as fast as 100 mph (161 km/h), which is roughly the same as a very good fastball in professional baseball. Coughs are quick, too, the group says, traveling up to 50 mph (80.5 km/h).

Of course, unless you're throwing a spitball (which is against the rules these days), you don't have to worry about getting any wet goo on a batter in baseball. But a sneeze can send out a spray – containing saliva, mucus, and other possibly nasty stuff – of 100,000 droplets, while a cough is considerably drier, spewing just about 3,000 droplets. So remember what the American Lung Association says: Contain your sneeze or cough by covering your mouth and nose with the bend in your arm, not your hands.

Hacking, sneezing, and more:

  • Although you can't stop a sneeze, even by keeping your eyes open, it can't stop your heart, as some rumors would have you believe.

  • On the other hand, a hard cough can fracture a rib, particularly if your bones have been weakened by disease.

  • If you sneeze or cough on a hard surface, germs can remain there for others to catch for about 24 hours.

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • A cough can expel 3,000 droplets at 50 mph (80.5 km/h), while a sneeze can expel 100,000 droplets at 100 mph (161 km/h).
      By: Photographee.eu
      A cough can expel 3,000 droplets at 50 mph (80.5 km/h), while a sneeze can expel 100,000 droplets at 100 mph (161 km/h).