Flu season is in full swing, and the internet is full of prevention tips that range from dubious to downright ludicrous. Travel nurses are exposed to a wide range of germs, and they work long hours in high-pressure environments that can challenge their immune systems. Use these simple, actionable tips to keep yourself and your loved ones from getting sick.
Get the Flu Shot
If you haven’t done it already, now is the time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting an annual flu vaccine is the most important thing you can do to protect against the virus. You’re not just protecting yourself, travel nurses come in contact with patients every day that may have compromised immunity or other health issues that could make contracting the flu deadly.
There are many variations of the flu virus, and the vaccine protects against the most common. A few patients still come down with the virus, but symptoms and illness duration are significantly shorter.
Even if you’ve been vaccinated, remember you can still spread germs. Most people can avoid contact with sick people to limit the spread of the virus, but the very nature of nursing makes avoiding sick people impossible.
You know to wash your hands regularly with soap and hot water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, but there are further steps. Disinfect contaminated services and avoid touching your face as much as possible. Flu germs land on tabletops, counters, doorknobs, bedding and other surfaces and they stay active for up to eight hours.
Take care of your immune system by eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each day, and consider a vitamin C supplement.
Control the Spread
Sometimes even the most conscientious healthcare professionals still get sick. If you do, follow these steps to limit the spread and shorten the duration.
- Stay home. If you go to work before you’re well, you could expose high risk and chronic condition patients. The CDC recommends staying home until you’ve been fever free for 24 hours.
- See your doctor right away. If he prescribes antiviral drugs, they may prevent complications and help you get well faster. Antiviral medications work best if the patient starts taking them within two days of onset.
- Keep germs to yourself. Protect those around you by coughing and sneezing into a tissue, then throwing it away. If you must leave home, keep your distance from others and wash your hands frequently before touching surfaces.
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