constantly sick ever since I started working

  1. I'm not looking for medical advice; I just want to know if this has happened to anyone else.

    I've been working as a CNA for about a year now, and in that year I've been constantly sick. I catch everything! I've gotten a stomach bug, plus cold after cold after cold. Every cold I get seems to hit me hard and I end up with an ear infection or a bad cough that lasts for weeks and before I've gotten over it I get slammed with another one. If I worked at a hospital I would just assume that catching everything during the first year was par for the course and my immune system would improve after a while (like what they say about teachers catching everything from the kids the first year), but i work in LTC, where I'm exposed to the same people with the same chronic diseases every day. I'm sick way more often than any of the frail little old ladies!

    I eat a relatively healthy diet, I don't smoke (or live with any smokers), I hardly ever drink, I get plenty of sleep, my weight is healthy, and I'm not that stressed out. I wash my hands. I don't have kids, so it's not like I'm getting anything from them either. This only started when i started working at my current job. Has anyone else experienced anything like this?
  2. Visit fuzzywuzzy profile page

    About fuzzywuzzy

    Joined: Sep '08; Posts: 1,878; Likes: 2,815
    CNA; from US
    Specialty: 3 year(s) of experience in cna in ltc

    12 Comments

  3. by   morte
    Quote from fuzzywuzzy
    I'm not looking for medical advice; I just want to know if this has happened to anyone else.

    I've been working as a CNA for about a year now, and in that year I've been constantly sick. I catch everything! I've gotten a stomach bug, plus cold after cold after cold. Every cold I get seems to hit me hard and I end up with an ear infection or a bad cough that lasts for weeks and before I've gotten over it I get slammed with another one. If I worked at a hospital I would just assume that catching everything during the first year was par for the course and my immune system would improve after a while (like what they say about teachers catching everything from the kids the first year), but i work in LTC, where I'm exposed to the same people with the same chronic diseases every day. I'm sick way more often than any of the frail little old ladies!

    I eat a relatively healthy diet, I don't smoke (or live with any smokers), I hardly ever drink, I get plenty of sleep, my weight is healthy, and I'm not that stressed out. I wash my hands. I don't have kids, so it's not like I'm getting anything from them either. This only started when i started working at my current job. Has anyone else experienced anything like this?
    you are still exposed to many persons that you havent been before.....the residents (at least some) have visitors..new residents=new bugs. new help=new bugs.......that being said, i would look for an allergy issue that may cause your resp. system to not be able to shield you in a normal fashion.... good luckl
  4. by   fuzzywuzzy
    Actually the place where I work is always renovating, so the entire building is pretty new at this point- new rugs, new paint, probably off-gassing like crazy. I did think of that... but I'm hoping that's not it, because I really like where I work.
  5. by   morte
    Quote from fuzzywuzzy
    Actually the place where I work is always renovating, so the entire building is pretty new at this point- new rugs, new paint, probably off-gassing like crazy. I did think of that... but I'm hoping that's not it, because I really like where I work.
    well, i might consider a consult with a doc......i was thinking of allergy to a specific thing......like cleaners etc.....see if you see a wax and wane with your sxs in relationship to floor care (waxing/stripping) or handling clean laundry etc.......also, have you changed anything at home that would be compounding the issue...changed cleaners at home, moved, changed pillows, changed rooms, if not houses.....big time test for your critical thinking/investigational ability! good luck, not fun to be sick all the time
  6. by   JKidzMom
    When I interviewed for a staff nurse on a pediatric floor, the Head Nurse told me that I would be sick for the next year. I replied, "NO way! I'm really healthy-I never get sick, I never call off!" Well.....I had pneumonia, meningitis, gastro flu (the worse ever), bronchitis, etc etc.....I have never been so sick in my life.....then eventually, I think I developed some sort of immunity, because I have never been sick since (1993). Cheer up....it will get better....keep eating right, excercising, drink plenty of water and wash your hands allllllllllllll the time!!
  7. by   invisigoth
    I wait till I take the resident out of the bathroom to flush the toilet. Think about it. Flushing the toilet and all those e.coli and c.diff poo drops flying around. I'll never understand why BR toilets don't have a lid at the home. GROSS :icon_roll
  8. by   liveyourlife747
    try taking a multivitamin every day, i used to get sick a lot, especially after working long shifts, but since i've been taking a vitamin every day I've very healthy and able to work a lot more.
  9. by   Virgo_RN
    How many colds have you had? Two to four colds per year is considered average for an adult, and up to 12 for a school aged child. There are over 200 known cold viruses, and cold viruses are constantly mutating. When you catch a cold, you develop immunity to that particular virus (assuming you are immunocompetent), so that each cold is actually from a different strain. Handwashing is generally effective at preventing the spread of transmission, but it's the mechanical action of the handwashing that works to remove virons from your skin, so make sure you're washing your hands long enough and covering all areas of your hands. Also, cold viruses can live for up to three hours on surfaces, so it's very easy to touch a surface (like a doorknob, faucet, or countertop), then touch your nose, eyes, or mouth, and be infected. Avoiding touching your face in addition to frequent and thorough handwashing should cut down on transmission.

    Some other links to increased likelihood of catching a cold are low Vitamin D levels and inadequate amounts of sleep (less than 7 hours per night).

    I also agree with the others who say that a visit to your doctor may be in order. For one thing, you need to be sure that what you are being infected with is, indeed, the common cold as opposed to another respiratory virus or an allergic reaction to something in your environment.
  10. by   Keepstanding
    do you work nights ? if so, it might be that you are run down from sleep deprivation...just a thought .

    praiser :heartbeat
  11. by   Moogie
    I agree with Morte---do please see your provider and be checked for allergies. I've heard that mold can develop in the ventilation systems in health care facilities---even the cleanest facilities---and sure enough, my chronic sinusitis flares when I'm working in a hospital or LTC. My symptoms would be very similar to those of a cold: stuffy nose, headache, sore throat---but the cause was the sinusitis, not an actual cold.

    You could also try a Neti pot to decrease your stuffiness. I haven't tried one myself---as much as I believe in holistic remedies, this just seemed a little too gross for me.

    I also agree with previous posters that you're being exposed to a lot of new bugs working in the healthcare environment. Again, make sure you wash your hands carefully. The alcohol-based cleansers are good for getting rid of most upper respiratory bugs but they aren't effective against c.difficile, which causes particularly nasty diarrhea. Make sure you wear your gloves when toileting residents with suspected c. diff (well, wear them when you toilet ANYONE!) and wash your hands with soap afterwards.

    Don't be shy about wiping down computer touch screens, keyboards or telephones when your co-workers are sniffling and sneezing. Not only can you get sick from your residents and their visitors, you can also catch whatever you co-workers might have as well. Frankly, I think it's ridiculous that any health care worker who has a cold is expected to come in and work because they expose the residents or patients and their co-workers to whatever crud they have but health care institutions take a pretty grim view of anyone who calls in "too often."
  12. by   sunray12
    Take vitamins.

    Get regular exercise.

    "Relatively healthy diet" isn't the same as the optimal diet for your physiology so you might do some research on that.

    Don't underestimate the effects of stress. I didn't know I was stressed when I developed stress related symptoms in my 20s. Looking back I can see the reasons for the stress, but when I was in it - stress wasn't something that occurred to me.
  13. by   I love my cat!
    Quote from morte
    well, i might consider a consult with a doc......i was thinking of allergy to a specific thing......like cleaners etc.....see if you see a wax and wane with your sxs in relationship to floor care (waxing/stripping) or handling clean laundry etc.......also, have you changed anything at home that would be compounding the issue...changed cleaners at home, moved, changed pillows, changed rooms, if not houses.....big time test for your critical thinking/investigational ability! good luck, not fun to be sick all the time
    This crossed my mind as well.
    Cleansers, latex, food that you allergic too being cooked and giving off fumes, etc.

    I know a Nurse who had an anaphylactic reaction to latex. She thought she was sick (non-stop) due to a cold. She also had chronic stomach aches, nausea and diarrhea. She ended being diagnosed w/ a Airborne and Contact latex allergy.
  14. by   joanncm109
    I was sick for the first year also! I worked on a large pediatric unit and it was not unusual for us to get 10-15 admissions in a single shift. Most of those were gastroenteritis and that is what I ended up with most of the time. Just remember to wash your hands all the time. You can't do that enough. It does get better!!

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