Difference Between Airborne Precautions and Droplet Precautions (With Table)

There are different types of pathogens and methods of spreading diseases. Health is an asset, it is wealth to us. To us, health is a valuable asset. We all strive to be healthy since there is no purpose to live if we are not healthy. Diseases can be transmitted through the air, water, or any other medium. Health personnel use airborne and droplet precautions to prevent the spread of illnesses that are spread through the air or droplets. There are distinctions between pathogen transmission via air and pathogen transmission via water.

Airborne Precautions vs Droplet Precautions

The main difference between Airborne Precautions and Droplet Precautions is the mode of disease transmission. The transmission of aerosols via the air is known as airborne, while the transmission of aerosols through droplets in the air is known as droplets. These bacteria or viruses, on the other hand, infiltrate the human body and cause sickness.

Bacteria and viruses float in the air and are inhaled into the human body in Airborne transmission. The fundamental goal of airborne precautions is to prevent substances from entering a person’s respiratory system. Furthermore, airborne measures do not necessitate the use of protective gloves to guard against infections. When a patient requires isolation, airborne measures, such as a specially built room, are required.

Droplet precautions are required when disease-causing chemicals are disseminated in the form of droplets. Droplets can infect a person through their mouth, nose, and conjunctiva. And Droplet Precautions doesn’t need a specially sealed room for the isolation procedure. The patient must be in a single-occupancy room. Droplet Precautions also need gloves and cloths to prevent the sickness from spreading.

Comparison Table 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.
Isolation A 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.
Distance Airborne Viruses can move up to 30-60 centimetres.Droplet viruses can only travel small distances.

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.

Main Differences 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.


The fundamental goal of airborne and droplet precautions is to prevent viruses or illnesses from entering the human body via the respiratory system or other means. Airborne droplets can transmit hazardous viruses and infectious diseases to the human body.

Droplet viruses can be transmitted to the human body through coughing, sneezing, and even singing. Droplet viruses are microscopic liquid drops that can be found in mucus and saliva. Smaller particles are responsible for the transmission of airborne illnesses. Droplet illnesses, on the other hand, are spread by bigger particles. Isolation is essential in preventing the spread of these illnesses.

Another better approach for keeping the virus from entering the body is to wear a mask and sanitise your hands. It is also necessary to maintain a safe distance from one another and avoid physical contact. It is our job to protect our health at all costs because health is wealth.


  1. https://journals.lww.com/coinfectiousdiseases/fulltext/2019/08000/controversy_around_airborne_versus_droplet.12.aspx
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1752-7325.2005.tb02785.x