You’ve heard COVID-19 is airborne and a respiratory illness—so how could you get sick from your eyeglasses? Or by subtly picking your nose? The coronavirus works in mysterious ways. Here, some top doctors explain how it can enter through your lungs.
You shouldn’t be having close personal contact with people you are not self-quarantining with. Dr. Sanul Corrielus explains, “personal contact with someone infected with the virus—like kissing—is a direct transfer of the virus between individuals and which can travel to the lungs.”
“Being able to smell someone’s breath means the person is within spatial and temporal range to inhale any particles present in that contaminated air,” says Dr. Lili Barsky. “This reinforces the 6-foot plus distancing rule!” Another example from Leann Poston M.D is: “Walking through the air in which someone just coughed or sneezed droplets filled with COVID viral particles.”
“The virus can be transmitted across the mucus membrane of the eye or through the tear ducts that connect eyes to the nasal cavity and subsequently reach the lungs,” says Dr. Jennifer Tsai, a VSP network eye doctor. “That is why keeping your glasses clean and not touching your eyes is so important to keep you and your loved ones safe.”
“In NYC, it was noted that most new cases developed in people who had been quarantining at home and alone in their apartments,” says Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, a board-certified dermatologist and pediatrician in Beverly Hills, in private practice at SkinSafe Dermatology and Skin Care. “It was then discovered that viral particles became aerosolized and passed through interconnected air ducts, passing germs between apartment units. This is more common in older buildings, rather than newer ones, in which each unit may be more likely to have their own air ventilation systems.”
“Talking lets out more respiratory droplets than normal breathing,” says Dr. Shainhouse. “10-15 minutes of talking to a carrier or infected person while unprotected can significantly increase the risk of inhaling enough viral particles to become infected.”
If there’s a good time to drop certain bad habits, it’s now. “Theoretically, if someone had the virus on their hands and then stuck their finger in their nose, they might inhale the virus,” says Jan Watson, MD.
“Secondhand smoke exposure can damage the lungs, facilitating lung entry,” says Dr. Barsky. “Some earlier studies suggested that the virus can attach to secondhand smoke or e-cigarette aerosol particles and be spread further in a smoker’s environment.”
Be careful out there—and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.