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Nightlife industry, we be illin’

The high price of partying professionally

Your mother was right. You look tired, and you need to eat something. You’ve had the sniffles on and off all year despite regular Airborne consumption. It’s about time the nightlife industry started taking better care itself—LVW’s Team Hangover included. Just in time for cold and flu season, local experts offer pointers for professional party people. And by experts, we don’t mean your friend who is convinced consuming more Patrón will kill the germs (we asked—it won’t).

Drumroll, please—lack of sleep appears to be the No. 1 cause for illness susceptibility. “People who get sleep-deprived are more likely to get sick,” says physician Robert K. White, who has treated numerous graveyard-shift casino employees. “A lot of people don’t have good quality sleep for a long enough period of time. It can affect your immune system.” White cautions that napping for a few hours here and there is an inadequate remedy.

“I think the nightlife crowd gets less sleep as a general rule because they don’t plan their sleep,” says Dana M. Forte, a family practice doctor who has treated members of the nightlife industry. “During the daytime, they plan activities, or they can’t sleep because of bright lights, noises or kids in the house … Then nutritionally, they have a harder time figuring out when their meals should be.” Though we’ve heard it before, Forte stresses the importance of establishing a routine that includes regular sleep, diet and exercise.

Dentist Matt Welebir is not only a “smile maker” for many in the industry, but also knows many players in the nightlife game. “I literally think it comes down to the opportunity to party too much, too many late nights and sleep deprivation,” he says. “The newer guys in the industry can get caught up in that really quickly and all of a sudden—boom!—they’re at the [Spearmint] Rhino and walking out at 7 a.m.” He acknowledges that not everyone falls prey to partying all night, and some industry vets seems to be healthier due to a more regimented schedule and regular workouts.

Interacting with tourists from around the globe turns us into virtual Petri dishes, and hand-washing can genuinely help. White debunks the fear that antibacterial hand sanitizer usage can lead to super-germs. He recommends carrying a small container of a product like Purell. “It’s a nice intermediary,” he says of antibacterial gels. “I swear it cuts down on infections.” However, he adds that for every five times you use an antibacterial product, you should wash your hands the old-fashioned way with soap and water.

Yet, we don’t always listen and still get sick. “A lot of nightlife people tend to count on tips, so they don’t want to miss work, so they go to work sick,” says Forte. In addition, many promoters are essentially independent contractors, and are responsible for their own insurance. Finding a good physician who knows your patient history is key, even if you’re uninsured. “Most doctors I know will give a 20- to 30-percent discount—I’m used to giving a 30- to 40-percent discount—on patients who don’t have medical insurance,” says White. “Usually they’ll walk out of my office with $50 to $100 in [prescription] samples to help cover their acute illness.” Forte adds that many people don’t go for flu vaccines, and they should.

Welebir feels prioritizing is important; money spent on a couple of bottles at afterhours could be put to better use in preventative doctor and dentist visits. “I think the mouth is the picture of your health,” he says. “The mouth is the easiest thing to take care of in terms of hygiene, but it’s the No. 1 thing people neglect.” We’ve heard it before, but brushing twice daily and flossing still works. However, if you’ve been out partying all night, “Drunken brushing is probably not the most efficient means of plaque removal.”

All three experts reiterate that sleep deprivation is probably still the No. 1 reason we’re under the weather again. Not eating right, relying on energy drinks to get through the night, too much alcohol and not enough water certainly aren’t helping either. Perhaps it’s time we finally listen to their advice and start taking some vitamins—especially since we’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.

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