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8 Cold and Flu Prevention Tips to Share with Patients Before the Holiday Season

8 Cold and Flu Prevention Tips
By Leigh Morgan, Contributor
Travel nurses are an excellent source of information for their patients, especially when it comes to preventing common illnesses and injuries. With the holiday season getting closer, you're likely to hear a lot of patients asking about flu prevention and cold prevention. Help your patients stay healthy for the holidays by sharing these cold and flu prevention tips.
1. Get vaccinated
According to Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, "the best flu prevention tip is to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is the only means we have of really preventing flu and its consequences. Even if you get the flu despite the vaccine, the flu you experience will be less likely to be severe, less likely to result in hospitalization and less likely to result in death."
2. Wash your hands
Awilla Rodriguez, a registered nurse who works with critically ill patients, highlights the importance of hand washing and hand sanitizer, stating, "You wouldn't believe how much people take this for granted. It has been shown again and again that hand hygiene is the number one cause of transmissions." Having patients wash their hands regularly can help limit the spread of influenza, the common cold and other illnesses.
3. Stay away from sick people
Rodriguez also recommends advising patients to avoid close contact with people who are sick. "Have you heard the saying 'keep germs to yourself'? Well, this applies here...By avoiding close contact with people who are sick, you will decrease your chances of getting the flu or cold."
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4. Take your vitamins
Dr. Arielle Miller, a physician and co-founder of Vous Vitamin, LLC, suggests taking the right vitamins to ward off the flu and the common cold. She notes, "A daily personalized multivitamin is a great way to get the immune support you need, likely including vitamin D3, C and certain B vitamins." Of course, it's not always possible to avoid germs, so let your patients know that taking extra vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc can "help shorten the duration of your symptoms," says Miller.
Anthony DiPasquale, a holistic and clinical nutritionist in Toronto, Canada, agrees that vitamin D is essential for warding off infectious organisms. "Vitamin D levels are known to fall in the cooler seasons, lowering our immunity. Other vitamins in addition can maximize your resistance this cold and flu season. A natural flu shot, if you will."
5. Avoid touching shared surfaces
For patients interested in cold prevention and flu prevention, hand washing is not the only way to avoid germs. Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, co-founder of MedAlertHelp, has an important reminder for patients and medical professionals alike. "Ordinary things like doorknobs, desks, chairs and light switches are places that people touch frequently, and that can pass viruses to you." Advise your patients to avoid touching these shared surfaces to reduce the risk of coming into contact with cold and flu germs.
6. Take a probiotic
Dr. Djordjevic also recommends taking a probiotic to support your immune system. He notes, "Probiotics help our guts to maintain lively bacteria colonies. The more 'good' bacteria our guts encounter, the more diverse immune responses are created, and thus, our overall health is improved."
7. Take precautions when attending holiday gatherings
Dr. Nodar Janas of Upper East Side Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has several recommendations for patients who plan to attend holiday gatherings. Carrying alcohol-based hand sanitizer makes it easy to maintain good hand hygiene even when spending time with large groups of people. Dr. Janas also suggests wearing a mask to prevent the spread of germs.
8. Watch your diet
Nutritionist Lisa Richards recommends chicken soup and hot tea for immune support. She explains, "Chicken soup and broth have been used for centuries to ward off the common cold and its symptoms. This is due in large part to the presence of cysteine in chicken. Cysteine is an amino acid known to break up mucus while also having an antiviral and anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Hot teas contain natural plant compounds known as polyphenols which act as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants will work in the body to reduce inflammation and also have antiviral properties."
Whether your next travel nursing assignment takes you to a busy hospital or an urgent-care clinic, you have the power to help patients prevent injuries and illnesses. Make the holidays a little brighter for your patients by sharing these cold and flu prevention tips.

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