Home from the hospital: Tips for the immunocompromised patient

A hospital discharge is usually met with a sigh of relief. However, returning home requires careful planning. A person’s immune system is often compromised when they are in recovery. For the immunocompromised patient, the home can be more dangerous than expected. Learn the risks hiding in your home. Then, plan ahead to ensure your home environment is conducive for a speedy recovery.

Preparing your home

The best time to start planning is just after your family member has been admitted to the hospital. If the admission was planned, your doctor may know when the discharge date is. If it was an emergency or sudden visit, your doctor may not know how long the stay will be.Talk to a discharge planner to help plan a smooth transition home.

Questions to consider include:

  • Will you need a hospital bed, shower chair, commode, oxygen supply or other equipment?

  • What medical supplies will you need? Examples include diapers, disposable gloves and skin care items.

  • Will insurance pay for the equipment and supplies?

Additionally, your home should be comfortable and safe, and a good place for care. Ask the hospital team if you need to do anything special to get ready. This might be to:

  • Make room for special equipment, such as a hospital bed

  • Move out items that can cause falls, such as area rugs and electric cords

  • Create a comfortable space for a family member or friend who might be staying with you for a few days

  • Find a place for important information, such as a bulletin board, notebook or a drawer

In addition to care preparations, it’s essential to create a healthy home that’s as clean and sterile as possible. If the patient is returning to an older home, there will be unique Indoor Air Quality issues to be addressed. Read more about air quality issues that impact older homes here.

Know your pathogens

Infectious microorganisms with the capacity to become pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses) put immunocompromised patients especially at risk because their immune systems are more vulnerable.

The following microorganisms have the potential to become dangerous:

  • Aspergillus fumigatus (type of mold especially dangerous for those with compromised immune systems)

  • Legionella pneumophila (bacterium that causes Legionnaires’ disease)

  • Clostridium difficile (bacterium that causes severe inflammation of the colon)

  • Multiresistant bacteria (bacteria that have become resistant to certain antibiotics)

  • All viruses causing respiratory or digestive infections

Use a HEPA filter vacuum

Regular vacuuming of your home with a high-efficiency HEPA vacuum can also help reduce the amount of allergens in your home.

A few tips to consider when purchasing a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner include:

  • Ensure the bag and motor components are sealed

  • Two-fan suction motor HEPA vacuums are more powerful

  • Choose one with height-adjustment capability – different carpets have different heights

  • Avoid bagless cleaners, as many leak

For more information on choosing the best HEPA filter vacuum cleaner, visit allergyconsumerreview.com/hepa-vacuum-cleaner.

Be cautious about cleaning your air ducts

Air ducts are the pathways that deliver the indoor air you breathe. Under certain conditions, they make a perfect home for mold, pests and dust particles that could be blown into your home’s living spaces and trigger your allergies. Because of this, you may think that you should have your air ducts cleaned regularly. But read on.

Despite years of research, there is no conclusive evidence that particle levels in homes increase even when air ducts are dirty. Most of the dirt and dust that collects in air ducts adheres to surfaces and is not blown out into the living environment. In fact, pollutants from indoor sources such as cooking and cleaning, as well as outdoor pollutants that are inside the home, are much more significant sources of contaminants. And in some cases, cleaning air ducts is not only unnecessary; it’s downright dangerous. Learn more about when it’s wise to have your air ducts cleaned here.

Create a clean air sanctuary inside your home

A high-performance air purifier that can create medical-grade air, such as the IQAir HealthPro Plus, will help remove particles of all sizes, as well as mold spores, airborne bacteria, and airborne viruses from the indoor air. The HealthPro Plus will also help control ozone levels.

Other tips include:

  • Monitor local air quality by visiting airnow.gov.

  • Wear a P-95 or higher facemask when going outside.

  • Avoid any exposure to vehicle exhaust.

  • Ban all smoking in the home.

  • Limit air pollution from cooking by using the exhaust fan and keeping the kitchen well ventilated.

  • Rid your home of fragrant and perfumed products like air fresheners, cologne, perfume, and cleaners. They may contain toxic chemicals that get into the air.

  • Use natural cleaners like vinegar, peroxide, and baking soda, or choose nontoxic brands.

  • Make sure gas stoves and central heating and air-conditioning systems are properly installed and well-maintained.

  • Filter the air, when ventilating the space.

With proper planning and precautions, your home can be the sanctuary needed for successful recovery.

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