As a travel nurse, you know firsthand the importance of a healthy, strong immune system. From germs picked up in the hospital to close quarters during travel, you’re exposed to potential pathogens throughout your travel journey. It’s important for your own wellbeing as well as your patients’ that you stay healthy. Not only will you be able to perform your job better, but you won’t risk exposing fragile patients to new infections. Here are 6 tips for boosting your immune system and preventing illness as a travel nurse traveling across multiple regions.

    Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle Year-Round

    Although many pills and powders claim to boost your immunity, nothing will build a stronger immune system than maintaining a healthy lifestyle. That means eating a balanced diet where your nutrients come from food, drinking enough water, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and keeping stress levels low. Living a healthy lifestyle means your body can devote all the resources it needs to fighting infection if you are exposed.

    Don’t Load Up On Questionable Supplements

    While it might feel like loading up on vitamins and supplements will help keep you healthy, the truth is, you’re probably getting nearly all the vitamins and minerals you need from the food you eat. The supplement industry is largely unregulated, and there’s no guarantee that the information listed on product labels is accurate. In fact, ingesting too many vitamins can result in symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and in extreme cases, liver damage, coma, and death. While a daily multivitamin likely won’t cause you any problems, you generally don’t need to supplement your diet unless your health team recommends you do so.

    Keep Up With Medical Visits

    Nurses often spend so much time caring for their patients’ health that they neglect their own. Make sure you’re up-to-date with regular physicals, specialist appointments, medication refills, and vaccinations. If you find yourself coming down with something, you might not think you need to book a checkup, since you’re a medical professional. But if symptoms persist for more than 10 days or you have unusual symptoms, make an appointment with a doctor or nurse practitioner for when you get back from your nursing assignment or while still on the road. Your health team may recommend specialized treatment based on your medical history.

    Wash Your Hands And Wipe Public Surfaces

    As a nurse, you know the importance of washing your hands in the hospital. Make sure you keep up those excellent hygiene habits on your own time, as well. Wash your hands before meals and after interacting with high-touch surfaces such as ATMs, touch-screen checkout terminals, and door handles. Keep hand sanitizer with you when you’re on the go and might not be able to do a full hand wash. If you’re traveling, bring a package of alcohol wipes and wipe down high-touch surfaces like airplane tray tables, hotel light switches, and remote controls.

    Mitigate Direct Contact With People Who Are Sick

    Nurses encounter sick people every day. You can avoid catching their germs with simple strategies like wearing a mask if they exhibit respiratory symptoms, asking them to wash or sanitize their hands if they’re touching surfaces like safety grab bars, and wiping down commonly-used items like pens and clipboards with cleansers or alcohol wipes.

    Use Your Own Personal Items

    Not every hospital cafeteria, hotel, or Airbnb has the same level of cleanliness you’d expect at home. To ensure the items you use are germ-free, consider ditching shared items in favor of your own personal items. Things like coffee cups, water bottles, utensils, makeup products, towels and linens can harbor germs if washed improperly. If you’re concerned about cleanliness, bring your own products and wash them yourself.

    These tips will help you stay healthy even while travel nursing through different regions. As a nurse, you know that your best defense against illness is common sense: if you keep yourself healthy and your space clean, you’ll be able to fend off most infections the world can throw at you.

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