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Sneezing, coughs and colds

Colds and coughs are very common and can make you feel unwell.

They are different to having flu and are caused by tiny micro-organisms (germs!) called viruses that easily spread from one person to another. The viruses are spread when we cough and sneeze, and sneezes can travel out of your nose at up to 100 miles an hour, spreading germs up to 2-3 metres away. Revolting!

When you have a cold or a cough, you might feel hot or cold – this may be a sign that you’re getting ill. Your temperature may be high, you could feel headachy, sick, have a sore throat or an aching body.  You might feel tired or not feel like eating, and you are likely to have a runny or snotty nose!  Having a cold is no fun.

Colds cannot be cured by antibiotics, so the best thing to do is get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids.

Sneeze Facts

Our body tries to get rid of germs by sneezing. The germs get caught in the tiny hairs inside our noses which makes our noses tickle. This sends a message to the brain. The brain then sends a message back to our nose, mouth and lungs telling them to blow the tickle away. Then we SNEEZE…..achooo!

Brain Borg
Did You Know?
Brain borg It is impossible to sneeze without closing your eyes.

Remember to CATCH IT – with a tissue, BIN IT – put the tissue in the bin, and KILL IT – wash your hands.

Sneezing song

Learn this song to help you stop the spread of germs when you have flu, a cough or a cold.

Tune: Frere Jacques

Are you sneezing?
Are you coughing?
Cover your mouth
Blow your nose
Germs are always flying
Throw away the tissues
Wash your hands
Wash your hands

Activity Character
Activity Zakk Why not teach the sneezing song to your friends, parents or carers? Then you can sing it together!

Cough Facts

Coughs can sound awful. But did you know coughing is good for you? It is the body’s way of removing mucus or phlegm (snot), anything that is stuck in your airway such as food or reacting to anything that irritates your airway. Things like tobacco smoke, asthma and snot draining from our nose into the back of the throat also make us cough.

This is perfectly normal and happens because your brain thinks the inflammation in your throat and airways is caused by something stuck in it and tries to remove it by making you cough.

Most coughs disappear after a few weeks. If your cough is really bad, your parent/carer might take you to see the doctor to get some medicine to help soothe your throat, especially if it is keeping you awake at night.

Find out more about coughs and colds at e-bug. 

If you’re worried about your cough or cold being coronavirus, read our guide on what to do.

Riddle me this!

How fast do sneezes travel out of your nose?
Quiz girl
Quiz girl
Quiz girl
Germs can live on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours, which means that if someone else touches a surface that you have sneezed on, they may catch your cold. To help to stop your germs from spreading, make sure you sneeze or cough into a tissue, then remember to put it in the bin and wash your hands.
Nurse with speech bubble

Page last reviewed: 13-10-2021

Next review due: 13-10-2024