Winter months bring about cold weather in the northern hemisphere, causing stress on our immune systems. Cold weather doesn’t cause illness, a weakened immune system does! Stress, cold weather, exposure to a lot of sickness and germs, and healthcare workers are on the front lines of this battle against the bugs. It’s important for healthcare workers to stay healthy during winter months!
What can healthcare workers do to prevent contracting illness and taking it home to their families?
1. Hand washing!
It really does prevent so many illnesses. Healthcare workers touch sick people. They use our pens, cough in our faces, and expose us to everything they have been exposed to. Wash your hands between patients and use alcohol based hand cleaners as often as possible!
Another suggestion, if you often need patients to sign forms, keep a stash of pens specifically for patients. In my office we have a stash of cheap dollar store ink pens. These are our “patient pens”. When we need a patient to sign a form we grab one of those pens. You can then leave it with the patient or drop it in the trash.
2. Keep your hands off your face!
Avoid touching mucous membranes. Eyes, mouth, inside the nose, and make sure your hands are clean before you go to the bathroom. You can get sick from the mucous membranes “down there” too. Avoid touching any mucous membranes while you’re working. Microorganisms easily absorb into these areas.
3. Wear a mask.
I know, I know. But really- it’s FLU season!!! You may feel like you look silly, but you’ll look even worse with pale skin and cold sweats. Trust me.
4. Take your vitamins!
Now, don’t blast me here. I’m not a physician nor a pharmacist, I can only attest that when I take my dailies, I feel better and get less sick. When the weather outside is frightful, I load up on vitamin C, multivitamins, and probiotics. There are no FDA statements that say taking supplements helps, so use your best judgement. I use a huge mix of them and even indulge in a sugar fest with some of my vitamins being the gummy vites. I know, I know. But it’s better than eating candy, right?
5. Nix the nail biting.
Our nails harbor some nasty things underneath, no matter how good your hand washing. Time to finally kick that bad habit.
6. Keep your surroundings disinfected.
Lysol does contain toxins, but so does the air we breathe. Bleach, Lysol, clean clean clean. Disinfect doorknobs around the house and office, and pay close attention to highly trafficked areas. These will be the places people touch the most. Get those sink handles clean!
7. Eat healthy!
Use natural foods like garlic, tumeric, cumin, cinnamon. These all have healing and disease prevention properties. (Again, I’m not a prescriber so no blasting me here for “not knowing what I’m talking about. These are merely suggestions.) Research more about these, and let food be thy medicine!
8. Sneeze into your elbow, not on your hands.
As a child we are taught to cover our mouth when we sneeze, cough, etc. How many times do you see someone that sneezes or coughs into their hand and then don’t wash their hands or use alcohol based sanitizers?
9. If you are sick, stay home!
Rest, hydrate, allow your body to heal and don’t expose your co-workers to what you may have caught, if you do indeed get sick. This blog I found gives 70 tips on how to clean your home after illness strikes.
10. Hydrate and rest anyway!
Get your sleep so your immune system is in optimal condition.
There are so many things a healthcare worker can do to prevent illness. Anther thing, if you feel the flu vaccine works, by all means. I realize a lot of hospitals are making their providers get the vaccine to practice, but you might just contract a different strain than the one covered in the vaccines. So follow these tips, regardless of having received the vaccine or not!