Are you a new nurse struggling with the odors in the hospital? Don’t worry, this is not uncommon. Many of us nurses have to deal with some pretty unpleasant smells that we encounter during shifts. The good thing is, there are ways to make the situation a little easier. Here are a few tips for dealing with strong odors in the medical setting:
1. Before approaching the patient’s room, do some research on their medical history.
There are some illnesses that can cause patients to have an unpleasant odor. Before approaching the patient’s room, do some research on their medical history to see if they have an odor-causing illness.
For example, patients with a UTI or a problem with the kidneys will cause the urine to smell of ammonia. In knowing this, you’ll be prepared and can handle the situation with professionalism.
Do not let your patient know you are suffering from a bad smell. If you must leave the room for a moment, give any reason to exit the room to get fresh air.
2. Maintain a clean environment for your patients.
Keep the room clean and free of any potential sources of odor. This may include garbage, dirty linens, or unused food. Make sure as well that all surfaces and areas in the room are cleaned on a regular basis.
Strong odors can also be a sign of poor hygiene, which can put patients at risk for infection. If the odor is coming from the patient themselves, if they are alert and oriented, you may need to gently encourage them to bathe or use deodorant. In some cases, you may need to provide these items for them. But remember, it’s important to do so in a respectful and non-judgmental way.
3. Dab a scented product under your nose or inside your face mask.
It may be essential oil, vapor rub or toothpaste. It’s a simple solution that can really help when the odors are particularly strong. You won’t have to smell the odor as much and you’ll be able to focus on your job. I find that dabbing peppermint oil under my nose does wonders!
4. Use coffee grounds.
Like the smell of coffee? Then you’d be happy to know that coffee grounds are a natural odor neutralizer and can absorb unwanted smells from the air. So if it’s possible, simply place a bowl of coffee grounds in the room with the noticeable odor. You can also do this instead: keep a small bag of coffee beans in your bag along with your nursing accessories and immediately take a whiff after you leave the patient’s room.
5. Breathe through your mouth instead of your nose.
This is a simple solution that may be overlooked. The next time you’re in a room with unpleasant odors, try breathing through your mouth instead of your nose. When you breathe through your nose, the odors are filtered through your nostrils and then travel to the back of your throat. This process allows the odors to enter your bloodstream and eventually reach your brain. However, when you breathe through your mouth, the odors bypass your nostrils altogether and are immediately exhaled.
Unwanted odors are common in hospitals, and it’s something that we may encounter often. Handle strong odors and help your patients feel more at ease by mentally preparing yourself, maintaining cleanliness, and using scented items or a good odor neutralizer. I hope these tips will help you! Share your experience in the comments.