Cold and flu season is in full swing, and as a busy medical assistant, the last thing you want is to get sick. The flu is one of the nastiest viruses that circulates every year, and it’s associated with between 3,000 and 49,000 deaths per annum, depending on the severity of the strain.
Unfortunately, you come into contact with the flu more than most people, especially if you work in a family medicine or urgent care practice. You’ll see dozens of flu cases a month, and it’s hard to avoid this rapidly spreading virus.
However, avoiding this illness is crucial to your health and occupation, and if you don’t want to get sick, you’ll take some extra precautions.
- Reduce Sugar and Alcohol Intake
Your immune system grants or denies your health, and both alcohol and sugar can weaken your immune system. Both ingredients are okay in small amounts, but in excess, they can suppress your white blood cells’ ability to kill bacteria and fight off viruses. Rather than grabbing an energy drink to get you through a long shift, opt for water.
- Get Vaccinated
As a medical assistant, you know the importance of vaccinations in eradicating serious illnesses in the United States. The flu shot is meant to fight off the most serious flu strain that circulates each year. In 2015, for example, that flu strain was H3N2, and it was responsible for twice as many hospitalizations and deaths as any other strain that year.
The flu shot isn’t perfect, since there are several unique flu strains each year, but it will protect you from several viruses and could potentially save your life.
- Take Your Vitamins
Supplements and probiotics are great for boosting your immune system and counteracting bacteria. Make sure to increase your intake of Vitamin C, which contributes to a strong immune system. When you’re healthier overall, you’re better able to fight any bacteria that threatens your health. Keep some vitamins in your locker and take them daily.
- Keep Your Hands Away from Your Mouth
Biting fingernails or picking at lips significantly increases your chance of catching the flu. As a medical assistant, you’ll touch numerous germy surfaces, and it’s important to keep your potentially contaminated hands away from your mouth. Furthermore, putting your hands in your mouth can spread your germs to others, making it easier for others to get sick.
- Wash Your Hands Double During Flu Season
Flu season is known as the period between December and March when the weather turns cooler and germs are spread more easily. During this time, it can’t hurt to wash your hands more than you normally would. Scrub diligently for at least 20 seconds before and after seeing patients to avoid spreading germs. You might also carry around hand sanitizer for when you can’t readily wash your hands.
- Wipe Surfaces Regularly
It’s probably standard practice to wipe down all surfaces where you work, and this is a must during flu season. Keep anti-bacterial spray or wipes handy for cleaning all surfaces where bacteria may grow. Pay special attention to doorknobs, light switches, bed rails, remote controls, keyboards, waiting room furniture, children’s toys, and anything else that sick people may have touched. Bring this healthy habit into your own home as well.
- Take Care of Your Body
Eating well and exercising will boost your immune system and improve your ability to fight off infection. Pack fruits and vegetables in your lunches and exercise at least 150 minutes per week to keep your body functioning properly.
It’s also vital that you get enough sleep. A sleep deprived body suppresses your immune system and your white blood cells. Schedule eight undisturbed hours each night, and try to stick with this schedule for a long-lasting pattern of health.
- Take Antiviral Drugs to Shorten the Duration
These are different than antibiotics and can reduce the severity of the flu. It will make the illness shorter and milder so that you can get over the illness and get back to work. They also help to prevent serious flu complications and are essential for those with high risk factors. Studies from the CDC show that these drugs are most effective when taken within two days of getting sick, but they can be helpful later on.
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