We all do it, or at least the polite people do. We cover our mouths when we cough.

But does that really stop the spread of cold and flu germs? You may be surprised!

We've had it drummed into our heads since childhood...cover your mouth when you cough! But does that really protect the people around you?

Nicole M. Bouvier, M.D., Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital's School of Medicine says maybe not. She points out that a fair amount of germs and particles still escape past a barrier such as a tissue, hand or sleeve! Those particles are the tiniest ones that are light enough to hang around in the air for hours and they are also small enough to penetrate a person's respiratory tract easily.

Your best defense during cold and flu season is to wash your hands properly and often. Always use soap, lather both sides of your hands and under your fingernails for a full 20 seconds.

Another good strategy that Dr. Bouvier suggests is to cough into a shirt sleeve or your elbow, as those places are less likely to come into a public place.

If you use a hand sanitizer, always apply a generous amount and let it dry completely.

Always keep in mind that the average person touches their nose or mouth 3.6 times every hour and then goes on to touch objects like a door knob, or a computer keyboard 3.3 times an hour. Know too that only 5% of us wash our hands correctly and more than 50% of men don't use soap according to a 2013 study done by Michigan State University.

To celebrate cold and flu season, let's see which is more disgusting and risky for the people around you...coughing or sneezing? Find out in the video, from the Discovery Channel, below.