A low white blood cell count is also known as Neutropenia. White blood cells (WBC) help fight bacterial and fungal infections. Chemotherapy decreases your WBC and if this happens you must take the precautions to prevent infection until your WBC count returns to normal.
You should also be aware of signs of infection to report to your doctor or nurse. Be sure to discuss these with your nurse or doctor and to learn take your temperature orally with a digital thermometer as directed by your doctor or nurse.
- Shower or bathe daily. Wash carefully under your arms, in skin folds, in the rectal and genital areas.
- Use soap to kill germs. Look for soaps that are “antimicrobial”.
- Wash hands regularly especially before cooking and eating and after you use the bathroom.
- Perform your mouth care routine after each meal and before going to bed. Use an ultra-soft toothbrush and rinse with the recommended mouthwash.
- Use antibacterial hand gels if possible, particularly after shaking hands and after direct contact with young children
- Avoid having visitors to your home who have colds or recent infections
- Postpone any dental work or any invasive procedure that does not need to be done immediately, having first spoken with your doctor
- Stay away from children who have had a “live virus” vaccine for chicken pox
- Ask your doctor or nurse if you can use tampons, suppositories or enemas
- Do not eat raw meats, raw fish or raw eggs
- Wash and peel raw vegetables and fruit well before eating them
- Do not share eat or drinking utensils
- Do not have a manicure, pedicure, waxing or tattoo without the approval of your doctor or nurse
- Do not shave your scalp or any other part of the body
- If shaving use caution when shaving your face and if possible, use an electric razor
- Do not touch animal excrement (e.g. litter boxes, bird cages)
- Do not garden or handle soil compost
Signs of Infection
Notify your doctor or nurse if you develop any of the following signs of infection:
- Fever : temperature of 100.4°F ( 3 8 ° C) or higher
- Shaking chills/ low temperature below 35° C
- Unrelieved nausea and vomiting
- Flushed face
- Neck Stiffness
- Mouth sores
- New onset of pain
- Pain or burning during urination. Cloudy urine
- A general feeling of tiredness; especially if accompanied by flu-like symptoms
Do not take drugs such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen containing products unless otherwise directed by your doctor