After a long and bitterly cold winter, it’s a relief to finally feel the warmer winds of spring. However, with spring comes spring cleaning, home improvement projects and injuries. Basic first aid is a must during the season of allergies, new sports teams and working around your home and yard. It’s especially important for nursing students in the Utica College accelerated nursing program to stay healthy so they don’t miss a beat in their studies.
Now that winter is over, you can say goodbye to so many colds. However, you’re likely to see allergies on the rise. It’s important to know the difference between allergies and a common cold. While both involve runny noses, coughing, and sneezing, allergies can be accompanied with watery and itchy eyes. Symptoms of a cold include a sore throat and a fever. Either condition can be self-treated through your local pharmacy. Allergy medicine such as Allegra or Claritin kicks in after just a few days of initial use. Colds, however, take a bit more work to get rid of. Cold medicine is one of the first lines of defense. Avoiding alcohol, soda, and caffeinated beverages while drinking plenty of water will help keep you hydrated. If your nose is stuffy, try using a Neti pot or other nasal irrigation system to ease swelling, pressure, and pain. A humidifier will also help a stuffy nose and sore throat. As a nursing student, be sure to know whether you’re dealing with a cold, which can be contagious to your classmates and your patients, and allergies. If you’re unsure, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Cuts and Scrapes
With sunnier days and warmer temperatures, it’s almost impossible to avoid going outside, and why would you want to? But cuts and scrapes are going to be more frequent, which could potentially lead to infections. Make sure your first aid box is supplied with plenty of Neosporin, hydrogen peroxide, or a similar disinfectant, as well as bandages of various sizes, gauze, and medical tape. If you do get a deep cut that doesn’t stop bleeding, you’ll want to seek medical attention. With a superficial cut or scrape, put some antibacterial or disinfectant on it and cover it with a bandage. For a larger cut or scrape, put a layer of gauze on it and keep it in place with medical tape. If you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the last five years, you’ll want to get one as soon as you can. It’s important to keep even small cuts covered during class and clinicals to protect those around you and help avoid infection.
On the first warm day of the spring, many people are likely to forget how easy it is to get a sunburn. Be sure to apply plenty of sunscreen, and select the appropriate strength. If you burn easily, you’ll want an SPF 50 sunscreen. Make sure to reapply it at least every two hours. If you do end up with a burn, you can treat it with various techniques. For a particularly painful burn, take some pain relievers such as Tylenol. Aloe vera will help ease the burn. You can store aloe in your fridge to add even more relief when you apply it. Take cool showers or baths, use a very mild soap, and let yourself air dry to avoid more pain. Remember, you can get a sunburn even on a cloudy day. No nursing student wants the sort of discomfort associated with a bad sunburn.
Grilling in the backyard can lead to burns. If you have a second of third degree burn, seek professional treatment. However, first degree burns can be self-treated. First degree burns typically include red skin, swelling and pain. Apply cool (not cold) water to the burned area, either by running it under a tap or immersing it in water. Avoid applying egg whites, butter, or similar home-remedies to the area, as this can lead to infection. Do not apply ice to the area. This could lead to further damage. Loosely cover the burn with sterile gauze and take an over-the-counter medicine to ease any pain you may have. You can treat second-degree burns smaller than three inches similarly, although you should avoid popping any blisters. Just like cuts and scrapes, be sure to cover up your burns during class and clinicals.
With spring comes more sports. Sports injuries are common after long winters of little action. Less painful and severe injuries can be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Avoid putting additional and unnecessary strain on any injuries, as this could make it worse. If the injury is swollen and painful, use ice or an elastic band to reduce the swelling and inflammation. Wrap ice in a towel or cloth, and be sure it isn’t on the injured area for more than twenty minutes at a time. If you use an elastic band, make sure it isn’t too tight, but puts some pressure on the injury. Prop an injured leg or arm up on a stack of pillows, and gravity will help reduce the fluids building up in the injured area. Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory to help with any additional pain and swelling. Remember, even in nursing school clinicals, you’ll be on your feet a lot. Be careful, and if an injury does arise, be sure to rest as much as you need to to avoid further injury.
Make sure you’re first-aid box is well supplied and be sure not to ignore any injuries. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to treating summer injuries. If you’re ready to learn more about treating these ailments by becoming a nurse, contact us today!