Sometimes, it just Stinks

  1. im-going-in-
  2. All Nurses have dealt with strong and/or offensive odors at some point in their careers. There are many things you can do to help prepare yourself in this situation. Here are just a few:

    #1 Mask odors by placing a little menthol-containing products (like Vicks) on the upper lip; use scented lip products with peppermint, lavender, etc.

    #2 Try breathing through the mouth (although, if you have a strong gag-reflex, this might not be such a good idea).

    #3 Identify certain illnesses that have characteristic odors ahead of time and get yourself mentally prepared.

    #4 Some Nurses have even tried hypnotic therapy.

    What has worked for you??


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    28 Comments

  4. by   VivaLasViejas
    GI bleed. For me that's the worst. I can handle C.diff poop, vomit, infected wounds etc. with ease, but I can't get the smell of GI bleed out of my nose for days after being exposed to it. Yeccchhh.
  5. by   Been there,done that
    #4 Some Nurses have even tried hypnotic therapy.??? Wowza.

    I found that I could turn off my nose with the mouth breathing technique.
  6. by   Cat365
    I just try and breath shallowly until I acclimate. Or use a face mask if I can't. Mouth breathing doesn't work for me. I'd rather smell it than taste it.
  7. by   bluegeegoo2
    The odor of copious amounts of serous fluid gets me. I would alternate shallow breathing with mouth breathing while changing soaked drsgs as quickly as possible.
  8. by   VivaLasViejas
    Yeah, I used to use some Vick's ointment under my nose to help cope with stench. Mouth breathing didn't work...all I did was taste it instead of merely smelling it. That's one of the things I definitely don't miss about nursing...
  9. by   bagladyrn
    For the worst odors: a few drops of tincture of benzoin on a cotton ball inside your mask. You won't be able to smell anything else.
  10. by   AceOfHearts<3
    I hate GI bleeds, but the worst for me is gangrene. I haven't found much that helps me with that smell. I do keep some citrusy essential oils in my bag for myself- dab it on the inside of a face mask.
  11. by   VivaLasViejas
    Oooo, I forgot about gangrene...ugh. That's almost as bad as GI bleed for me. Funny how you can remember these smells years after your career is over...it's like they leave a permanent odor in your nose. Eww.
  12. by   Been there,done that
    Quote from VivaLasViejas
    Oooo, I forgot about gangrene...ugh. That's almost as bad as GI bleed for me. Funny how you can remember these smells years after your career is over...it's like they leave a permanent odor in your nose. Eww.
    As nurses, we need to use all of senses. Sometimes.. the sense of smell will kick in, no matter what. I walked into a room and smelled something so nasty, I couldn't really identify it, but I knew it was bad. It was necrotising fasciitis. Missed by day shift and the physician rounding( kinda smells like poop). I turned him over to take a look for the source. BLACK skin breakdown on the sacrum. The patient was in OR within the hour. We gotta do what we gotta do.
  13. by   KrCmommy522
    When I was in one of my first clinical rotations in clinical school I had a pt with an infected abscess and it was really deep and leaking everywhere. The night shift had just finished changing the dressing when I got there and said it probably wouldn't last long with the way it was leaking. They were SO right! I checked in with the pt and went and started meds and then when I got back to the pt about 30 min later, it had seeped completed through the dressing and all over the bed, then the pt got up and was walking around the room, so it went all over the floor every where the pt went! The entire room smelled like it!! My immediate thought was....Why did I choose nursing? lol but the pt was able to shower, so I got the pt in the shower and then re-dressed the wound. But ever since then, that has definitely been my most hated smell!
  14. by   brownbook
    "To keep your nervous system from exhausting itself with continuous stimuli, the receptors experience temporary sensory fatigue, or olfactory adaptation. Odor receptors stop sending messages to the brain about a lingering odor after a few minutes and instead focus on novel smells."

    The above is a quote from Mental Floss a magazine article. I know about 20 years ago I heard similar advice from a legitimate doctor call in show. It may be because I believe it that it works, (placebo effect?), but I take a few intentional deep breaths through my nose. It seems to work.
  15. by   No Stars In My Eyes
    Quote from brownbook
    "To keep your nervous system from exhausting itself with continuous stimuli, the receptors experience temporary sensory fatigue, or olfactory adaptation. Odor receptors stop sending messages to the brain about a lingering odor after a few minutes and instead focus on novel smells."

    The above is a quote from Mental Floss a magazine article. I know about 20 years ago I heard similar advice from a legitimate doctor call in show. It may be because I believe it that it works, (placebo effect?), but I take a few intentional deep breaths through my nose. It seems to work.
    Mental Floss is a great magazine; I get it on line now, but I much preferred the printed issues, which they don't do anymore.

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