You may have noticed a trend this month on posts about staying healthy! Even health professionals need gentle reminders for themselves and clients about preventing flu, hand washing, eating well and being active and overall stress management.
Today, Dixie Harms reminds us as health professionals about steps we can take to minimize flu risk and keep us (and others healthy). Dixie Harms, DNP, ARNP, FNP-C, BC-ADM, FAANP. Dixie is a family nurse practitioner at Family Medicine of Urbandale in Urbandale, IA and also serves as Adjunct Clinical Faculty at the University of Iowa College of Nursing. She specializes in diabetes care and bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. Dixie is also a member of ENC’s Health Professional Advisor panel.
This time of year there are a large number of viruses spreading and more people are getting sick. It seems with the holiday bustle we often find ourselves at large gatherings such as concerts, religious services, family gatherings, completing holiday shopping and of course– going to work. We all know of someone at any of these places that has shown up sneezing or coughing and we worry that we could be next. As a nurse practitioner in family practice, I get asked frequently how I keep from getting sick. Health care professionals do not always stay well. We are as prone to infections as anybody else, but there are measures we can all take to prevent infection.
When a person thinks about germs, they likely think about different infections. Infections can come from a variety of sources. Sources of infection can come from viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa. Bacterial infections can include strep throat or urinary tract infection. Viral infections can include influenza, shingles or the common cold. So how are these organisms spread?
- Sneezing or coughing
- Shaking hands
- Using the toilet and not washing hands
- Touching objects with contaminated hands
Influenza is common and can be severe, especially for high-risk individuals
How does influenza spread?
- The virus can be spread the day before symptoms actually appear or for 5-7 more days after symptoms develop
- People who have influenza are most infectious on days 2 and 3 of their illness
- When the temperature is higher, more virus is spread
- Direct transmission of the virus can occur when a person sneezes directly into the eyes, nose, mouth or throat of another person
- Any person can inhale the virus from another person who coughs, sneezes or spits
- The virus can also be spread by direct contact of a contaminated surface, handshake or other direct contact
- A single sneeze can release 40,000 droplets and it may take only one droplet to infect a person
- Viruses can survive for 1-2 days on a contaminated surface, 15 minutes on dry paper tissues and 5 minutes on the skin
How do you prevent the spread of infection?
- Avoid close contact
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your mouth and nose
- Clean your hands
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Eat well and sleep plenty!
One of the best ways to prevent the spread of influenza is–Get your annual influenza vaccine
As health professionals, we often think of others first and “push on”. It is difficult to take a sick day when appointments may be canceled, someone else has to cover the caseload, paperwork piles up and more, but it the best thing to do for patients, staff and yourself.