You go to the doctor or the hospital to get feeling better, but it’s not that uncommon to catch a cold while you’re there. Sure, it may seem like hospitals are safe – especially since a lot of them reek of cleaning chemicals and bleach – but that’s not always the case. With so many patients suffering from ailments packed inside, it’s entirely possible for you to catch something even after just a quick visit. This also holds true for doctor’s offices, the ER or health clinics.
Think about it. If someone with the flu or a cold sneezes into their hand and then touches a surface like a door handle, chair or magazine, they are effectively contaminating it. It’s very easy for someone else to come along – like you – come into contact with those germs and then become sick.
It wouldn’t be fun to leave a hospital, doctor’s office or health clinic after a routine checkup only to get sick later. That’s why it’s always a good idea to take some precautions before your visit. Here are some ways to protect your health and your body.
Time Your Visits Accordingly
If you’re seriously injured and you have to be rushed to the ER, that’s one thing. However, if you’re just going in for a routine checkup or something similar, then it makes sense to pay attention to what’s happening around you. For example, you don’t want to visit the doctor in the middle of flu season for a simple checkup because it’s more likely you will come down with something.
If you’re worried about a particular ailment or problem, call and talk to the doctor before rushing in to a clinic. Most hospitals, like Longmont United, have a directory of numbers and contact info you can use to your advantage. You may not always have to spend time at a hospital or doctor’s office, putting yourself at risk for infection.
Wash or Disinfect When Necessary
Believe it or not, all the things you were taught when you were little are true. You must wash your hands under warm (preferably hot) water for at least 20 seconds with soap in order to eliminate any germs. Of course, you can also use hand sanitizer, but you must refrain from being liberal with it. On average, a human can touch up to 30 objects in a minute, including door handles, chairs, magazines, light switches, phones, remote controls and more. Any time you visit a public area where you could come into contact with germs, you must always wash and disinfect your hands shortly after.
Always Carry Sanitizer and Cleaners
This goes right along with the point above, as you should always carry some kind of sanitizer in order to disinfect your hands. Make sure they have at least 60 percent alcohol content, as this is most effective for killing germs. It’s also a great idea to carry a small supply of tissues or paper towels so that you don’t have to borrow from the public supply.
Respect Your Personal Space
While you’re in the waiting room, try to keep enough space between you and anyone else that may be there, especially if they are coughing or sneezing. It’s a good idea to keep at least two chairs between you and them at all times, because respiratory ailments are fairly contagious. This also means refraining from shaking hands, offering hugs to friends and family and just keeping your hands to yourself. While that may seem a bit unfriendly, that won’t matter much when you bring home the flu or cold.
Bring Your Own Entertainment
This may seem a bit silly at first, until you find yourself sitting in the waiting room for an extended period of time. Eventually, you get bored and start fiddling with magazines, toys or a TV remote control. It’s much better if you bring your own entertainment along, so that you can avoid touching any contaminated surfaces. For yourself, you could bring books, magazines, a tablet or a smartphone. For your child, you could bring small toys, crayons and coloring books, or a gaming system.
Politely Request That Your Physician or Nurse Clean, Too
Even though they may be dealing with sick patients all day long, it’s easy for a doctor or nurse to forget to wash their hands or tools. It’s not rude to politely request they wash in your view, so you know they’ve actually done it. Even just sanitizing their hands with gel is enough, and it’s much better than coming into contact with germs because they forgot to wash. It’s also possible for bacteria to live on the surface of a doctor’s tools for some time, so it’s not out of line to ask them to politely clean those, either.
Stay Up to Date on Your Vaccinations
Nobody likes getting a shot. That said, vaccinations were created for a reason; they’re meant to keep you healthy. Many places offer an annual flu shot for free, and you should take advantage of the opportunity if you can. While it’s entirely possible to still get sick even after a vaccination, it’s more likely that you won’t. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet can help boost your immune system and prevent you from contracting any type of ailment no matter where you are. You’ll want a decent mix of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and protein. By keeping your body strong and healthy, you’ll be more likely to fight off an infection before it gets out of hand.
Now that you know some ways to protect yourself during your next visit, do your best to follow everything listed here. Some of them may seem like a hassle or a burden, but you certainly won’t feel that way if you come down with something. Even the common cold can leave you miserable and out of commission for days at a time. It’s true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.