How Can Cancer Patients Reduce The Risk Of Infection During Chemotherapy?
Some types of chemotherapy treatment make it harder for your bone marrow to produce new white blood cells. And we all know how important those white blood cells are to fighting infections. Here are some tips for reducing the risk of infection and maybe even avoiding it:
Get medicine that raises your white blood cell count (WBC). If chemo is likely to make your white blood cell count (WBC) very low, your doctor may be able to prescribe medicine that raises it. Your doctor or nurse will be on the watch for this, as they’ll be checking your WBC throughout your treatment.
Wash your hands often with soap and water. Be sure to wash before cooking and eating. And do so after you use the bathroom, blow your nose, cough, sneeze, or touch animals.
Use sanitizing wipes to clean surfaces and items that you touch. This includes public telephones, ATM machines, doorknobs, remote controls, and other common items. Carry a hand sanitizer when you’re not near soap or water.
Be careful around animals. Do not clean your cat’s litter box. Do not puck up dog waste. Do not clean birdcages or fish tanks. Be sure to wash your hands after touching pets and other animals.
Be gentle and thorough when you wipe yourself. Instead of toilet paper, use a baby wipe or squirt water from a spray bottle to clean yourself. Let your doctor or nurse know if your rectal area is sore, bleeds, or if you have hemorrhoids.
Stay away from people who are sick. This includes anyone with cold, flu, measles, or chicken pox. You also need to stay away from children who just had a ‘live virus’ vaccine for chicken pox or polio. Call your doctor, nurse, or local health department if you have any questions.
Stay away from crowds. Try not to be around a lot of people. For instance, plan to go shopping or to the movies when the stores and theaters are less crowded.
Be careful not to cut or nick yourself. Do not cut or tear your nail cuticles. Use an electric shaver instead of a razor. Be extra careful when using scissors, needles, or knives.
Watch for signs of infection around your catheter. Let your doctor or nurse know about any changes you notice, such as drainage, redness, swelling, or soreness.
Take good care of your skin. Do not squeeze or scratch your pimples. Use lotion to soften and heal dry, cracked skin. Dry yourself after a bath or shower by gently patting (not rubbing) your skin.
Clean cuts immediately. Use warm water, soap, and an antiseptic to clean your cuts. Do this every day until our cut has a scab over it.
Do not get a flu shot or other type of vaccine without first asking your doctor or nurse. Some vaccines contain a live virus, which you are particularly susceptible to.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Do not leave leftovers sitting out. Put them in the refrigerator as soon as you’re done with them. And don’t eat or drink anything past their ‘use by’ date. Do we have to add that you shouldn’t eat moldy or spoiled food?
Wash raw vegetables and fruits well before eating them. There are now ‘food wash’ products that you can spray onto your fruits and veggies to clean them more thoroughly.
Do not eat raw or undercooked fish, seafood, meat, chicken, or eggs. These foods may have a bacteria that causes infection.
And one final, important piece of advice. Call us, day or night, if you have a fever of 100.5 degrees (fahrenheit) or higher. And don’t take drugs that reduce fever without first talking with your doctor or nurse.