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Chemotherapy and risk of infection


From Medicineworld.org: Chemotherapy and risk of infection

Chemo for breast cancer Right chemo fo ryou Warning symptoms of infection  

Infection is a serious complication that can occur while you are receiving chemotherapy. White cells in the blood play a big role in attacking and killing the bacteria that may invade into our body. Most of the chemotherapy drugs cause a suppression of bone marrow, thus resulting in low white cell counts. Low white cell count is also known as neutropenia. If you are having neutropenia and develop an infection, this could be a very serious issue. Generally you need to be admitted to the hospital and treated with iv antibiotics to control the infection. Various body organs may be susceptible to infection while you are having low white cell counts or neutropenia. Lung is especially vulnerable to develop infection. Urinary bladder is another organ that can easily start to have infection, especially in women. There are several things that you can do to decrease your risk of infection. This may include the following:

  • Clean your enviroment as much as possible
  • Wash your hands often during the day. Be sure to wash them before you eat, after you use the bathroom, and after touching animals.
  • Clean your rectal area gently but thoroughly after each bowel movement. Ask your doctor or nurse for advice if the area becomes irritated or if you have hemorrhoids. Also, check with your doctor before using enemas or suppositories.
  • Stay away from people who have illnesses you can catch, such as a cold, the flu, measles, or chicken pox.
  • Try to avoid crowds. For example, go shopping or to the movies when the stores or theaters are least likely to be busy.
  • Stay away from children who recently have received "live virus" vaccines such as chicken pox and oral polio, since they may be contagious to people with a low blood cell count. Call your doctor or local health department if you have any questions.
  • Do not cut or tear the cuticles of your nails.
  • Be careful not to cut or nick yourself when using scissors, needles, or knives.
  • Maintain good mouth care.
  • Do not squeeze or scratch pimples.
  • Take a warm (not hot) bath, shower, or sponge bath every day. Pat your skin dry using a light touch. Do not rub too hard.
  • Use lotion or oil to soften and heal your skin if it becomes dry and cracked.
  • Clean cuts and scrapes right away and daily until healed with warm water, soap, and an antiseptic.
  • Avoid contact with animal litter boxes and waste, bird cages, and fish tanks.
  • Avoid standing water, for example, bird baths, flower vases, or humidifiers.
  • Wear protective gloves when gardening or cleaning up after others, especially small children.
  • Do not get any immunizations, such as flu or pneumonia shots, without checking with your doctor first.
  • Do not eat raw fish, seafood, meat, or eggs.
  • Use an electric shaver instead of a razor to prevent breaks or cuts in your skin.


Did you know?
Most of the chemotherapy drugs cause a suppression of bone marrow, thus resulting in low white cell counts. Low white cell count is also known as neutropenia. If you are having neutropenia and develop an infection, this could be a very serious issue. Generally you need to be admitted to the hospital and treated with iv antibiotics to control the infection.

Medicineworld.org: Chemotherapy and risk of infection

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