We clean everything we can get our hands on, but we still get sick. While cleaning everything be great for fighting off those nasty bugs that can wreak havoc on your immune system, there really is some truth to the saying, “Too much of a good thing is bad.”
Here are the top ten reasons why nurses get sick:
1. Not Washing Our Hands
We sure don’t practice what we preach all the time do we? C’mon admit it. Do you wash your hands every single time you go in and out of every patient room? Before and after every contact?
Also, are you washing your hands after each contact with a patients chart? How about the bedside glucometer?
2. Not Enough Sleep
Research has proven that sleep deprivation will lower your immune system. But, even without research on my side, think about how you and your body felt after not sleeping well for just one night! How about a whole string of nights during the week?
3. Too Much Work
Go right ahead and work those extra shifts. While your paycheck is inflating, your energy reserve is deflating. Guess what happens to your immune system when you get run down? Hey, don’t get me wrong, I like the overtime as much as the next nurse, but there has to be a balance between the extra shifts and taking care of yourself.
4. Not Drinking Enough Fluids
Who has time to drink? Well, non of us do, but can you say Urinary Tract Infection? I don’t know about you, but when your body is made up of more water than any other molecule (upwards of 65% water), that means something don’t you think?
5. Not Cleaning Our Stethoscope
This goes hand-in-hand with the hand washing, yes that was an intentional pun. Think about all the times you use your stethoscope and not clean it in between each patient use. Ever let someone else borrow your stethoscope? Where do you think their hands were? Did they clean the stethoscope? Did they wash their hands?
6. Using One Pen For All Our Patients
So you go into a patients room who is in precautions. Or better yet, it’s not your patient, but the patient is on your unit. Is there a dedicated writing device in the room? What about a marker? I already know there is usually a stethoscope in there!
7. Being Too Clean
This ranks up there with Antibiotic Resistance, and prescribing an antibiotic for the flu. We nurses can be very neat, tidy and super-clean freaks. We take cleaning to a new level sometimes. We wipe down all surfaces before our shift starts, including the mouse for the computer, the telephone, the cupboards, etc. We clean everything we can get our hands on. While this can be great for fighting off those nasty bugs that can wreak havoc on your immune system, there really is some truth to the saying, “Too much of a good thing is bad”.
If you ‘sanitize’ everything, what in the world is your immune system going to do when it actually has to work and fight off an infection??
8. Allowing Too Much Stress
Don’t let the ‘man’ get you down. There are a million-and-one things out there we cannot control and only a handful of things we can. Somehow we always concentrate on what is out of our control and we run it through our minds over and over again, until it turns ugly. Stress is a funny thing. It’s the one thing that if utilized correctly can help you break through some of the toughest obstacles, but if utilized too much or let it over-run your thoughts and your daily life will severely affect everything that matters in a negative way.
Oh – did I mention that too much stress also lowers your immune system?
9. A Night Out On The Town
Say it with me – ‘binge drinking’. No I’m not talking about the inebriated fog from your collegiate years. I’m talking about that one night you FINALLY get to hang out with your favorite crowd. You know, that one night when the planets serendipitously align and all parties have the same night off! Regardless of the day of the week, you all go out for a night of fun. Fun with a capital F! A night full of gluttony to the max, which includes some form of alcoholic substance. The only problem is you don’t know when to stop. So the drinking commences to the point where maybe parts of the night are a lil hazy.
The next morning, or a couple days later you start to get the sniffles, and the body aches. You have no idea where you got this cold? Not only does the increased amount of alcohol dampen your immune system, but guess what? Just imagine all the surfaces you touched, and all the hand washing you did not do while you were out partying? ‘Nuff said.
10. Arrogant Ignorance.
This goes for anyone who thinks they don’t belong in the same category as the rest of the public because you’re a nurse, because you ‘know better.’ You think since you are exposed to the ‘nasty’ bugs at work, there is NO WAY you’ll get the common head cold, or upper respiratory infection, or the seasonal flu!
I’m here to tell you that ignorance is not bliss ladies and gentlemen.
Did I miss any??
For more Career Advice for Nurses pick up the latest issue of Scrubs magazine, available at a retail store near you!