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How do Doctors and Nurses Avoid Getting the Cold and Flu?

Ever notice how usually the only folks not coughing and sneezing up a storm during cold and flu seasons are the people who spend the most time around germs, bacteria and viruses?

They’re not magicians, they’re just doctors and nurses and experts on cold and flu defense plans.

Medical professionals are exposed to sick people every day, forcing them to take on bacteria and viruses virtually non-stop during the heart on the sickliest time of the year in America.

Doctors and nurses take on germs on the front lines, through hand-to-hand contact (direct contact during examinations) and indirect contact (fresh germs patients leave behind on door knobs, sinks and desks. Dr. Mehmet Oz reports 45,000 nasal droplets are released in the average sneeze and can travel up to six feet!

As we dive into fall, the season for upper respiratory infections (colds and influenza) and their dangerous complications (sinus infections, bronchitis and pneumonia), we all can learn valuable secrets to staying healthy from the folks who do it best.

Clean Hands Save Lives

It’s Lesson 1 of Staying Healthy 101, but doctors remind us that staying healthy starts with the basic principle of good personal hygiene: Wash Your Hands.

Doctors wash their hands before and after every exam, before and after meals and even after using the keyboard. For many nurses, hand sanitizer is as important a tool as a thermometer.

Remember, Mary Poppins was right

A clean desk, office and house go a long way to keeping a healthy family when germs, bacteria and viruses are running wild.

In physicians’ offices, clean is the rule and Lysol wipes are stored in bulk. Remember, germs and bacteria from coughs and sneezes can live from 2-8 hours on exposed surfaces. Daily cleaning and disinfecting of all living spaces during flu and cold season is a must for doctors and a surefire defense against germs when they are at their strongest.

Don’t sleep, vaccinate

It’s easy to put off when you’re busy, but the first thing most doctors and nurses do at the dawn of flu season is get a vaccination, the most proven line of defense against influenza.

“Yearly vaccination is the first and best way to protect against the flu,” Dr. Michael Jhung wrote in the Center for Disease Controls’ Public Health Matters blog. “Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, missed work due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. Everyone 6 months of age or older, with rare exceptions, should get a flu vaccine.”

For children, doctors are working to make parents aware of an important new recommendation the Center for Disease Controls has instituted for the 2014-15 flu season. The CDC advises the use of nasal spray vaccine (LAIV) in healthy children ages 2 through 8, when it is immediately available and if the child has no contraindications or precautions to that vaccine. New studies suggest the nasal spray flu vaccine may work better than the flu shot in younger children. But doctors remind parents if the nasal spray is not available, children should get the flu vaccine.

Smart cold management

Doctors and nurses will be the first to tell you they’re not impervious to colds and flus. When you do come down with a cold, the trick is to react fast and wisely.

Nurses – like Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies associate professor Laura Anderko – recommend drinking more fluids than usual. High quality H2O is always a good friend when you’re battling a cold.

Also, getting ahead of the cold with vitamins (no vitamins fight back against viruses better than Vitamins C and E), antihistamines and decongestant medicines like Airborne and Tylenol can help avoid chest congestion and deep chest coughs. Numerous clinical studies have also shown Oscillococcinum, one of the world’s most popular natural flu medicines, to effectively reduce the duration and severity of flu-like symptoms when taken at the onset of symptoms.

Sick doctors and nurses have patients depending on them to get back on their feet fast, so they have to practice smart personal health habits. The healthy doctors and nurses eat a balanced diet, get enough rest and exercise regularly.

Most important, sick doctors and nurses ice their chances of spreading their colds and have them transform into flus by staying home from work.

It’s doctors’ orders.

“There’s no magic (formula for staying healthy during cold and flu season),” Getta Nayyar, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, told The Washington Post. “It’s just a matter of common sense.”

photo credit: kellogg

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