Airborne Precautions vs Droplet Precautions – Difference and Comparison

What is Airborne Precautions?

Airborne transmission occurs when a virus or bacteria is transmitted through microscopic particles or droplets in the air. To be considered an airborne infection, the particles must be smaller than five micrometres in size. It has a range of 30 to 60 centimetres in the air. They enter the human body immediately through respiratory systems such as the throat, lungs, and nose. Inhaling these viruses can result in the spread of disease to the whole body.

There are three forms of airborne transmissions. They are Opportunistic, preferential and obligate airborne. Airborne infections are mostly disseminated by pollution and other contaminants in the air. Airborne infections can cause lung infections by inflaming the airway. Influenza, chickenpox and measles are examples of airborne diseases. Some airborne diseases even affect animals.

The goal of airborne precautions is to prevent or halt germs from entering the human body through the respiratory system. Special air management and ventilation technologies are required in the room where an airborne disease patient is located. Airborne measures, on the other hand, do not necessitate the use of gloves or additional clothes to avoid transmission. However, the victim’s isolation room must be a carefully designed sealed room.

What is Droplet Precautions?

Droplet transmission involves the transmission of mucus and saliva via sneezing, coughing, and shouting. Breathing and sneezing are the primary sources of droplet transfer. Pollutants with a size of 5 micrometres or greater are called droplets.

Droplets can transmit dangerous viruses and germs. Aerosol droplets and respiratory droplets are the two most common types of droplets. Aerosol droplets are droplets in the air that transfer virus. But respiratory droplets are larger than aerosols and physical touch has the capability of spreading the disease.

Droplet transmissions propagate norovirus, rhinovirus, and influenza virus. An individual separate room, appropriate distance from each other and wearing of PPE is necessary to prevent droplet transmissions. Surgical masks and other types of masks are also required to avoid infection.

Difference Between Airborne Precautions and Droplet Precautions

  1. Airborne transmission happens only through droplets in the air. Meanwhile, droplet transmission happens when liquids produced by individuals, such as sneezing and coughing, come into contact with each other.
  2. Airborne particles are of size 5 micrometres or less than that. But, droplet particles should be 5 micrometres or bigger than that.
  3. Airborne precautions don’t require extra gloves and clothing. Droplet precautions, on the other hand, necessitate the use of extra gloves and protective equipment such as surgical masks and PPE to prevent the entry of infectious materials.
  4. Airborne viruses can travel a long distance. Droplets, on the other hand, can only go short distances.
  5. Airborne precautions mainly aim at preventing the viruses from entering through the respiratory system meanwhile droplet precautions focuses on preventing infectious particles from entering through the nose, mouth and conjunctivae.

Comparison Between Airborne Precautions and Droplet Precautions

Parameters of ComparisonAirborne PrecautionsDroplet Precautions
DefinitionAirborne diseases are spread through droplets in the air.Droplet viruses are spread via liquid droplets produced by humans, such as sneezing and coughing.
SizeAirborne particles have a size of 5 micrometres or less.Droplet viruses have a size of 5 micrometres or more.
IsolationA separate sealed chamber is required for the isolation process to prevent the spread of airborne infections.To prevent droplet viruses, the isolation room must be a single-occupant room.
PrecautionsIt is vital to wear a surgical mask. But there is no need of wearing gloves and use sanitiser to prevent airborne diseases.Preventing droplets necessitates the use of surgical masks, gloves, and PPE. It’s also a good idea to put on a PPE kit.
DistanceAirborne Viruses can move up to 30-60 centimetres.Droplet viruses can only travel small distances.