Staying Germ-Free During Chemotherapy
One important concern of patients undergoing chemotherapy is how to avoid germs. Germs include both viruses and bacteria: tiny organisms that enter your body, destroy tissue, and/or set off your body’s immune system. They can cause a variety of symptoms, from coughing and sneezing to rashes, fever and headaches.
Although most people who get sick are fine in a few days, you may run into complications if you have cancer, or are being treated for it. You can reduce the risk of infection by understanding how germs live and spread.
Germs are contagious; you get them from other people, or from the things they have been around. Some are coughed or sneezed into the air, others you get by direct contact, such as kissing and hugging. Sometimes you “pick up” germs by touching something contaminated and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs can survive on hard surfaces like telephones, keyboards and ATM machines, as well as stair rails, doorknobs, faucets, and other places people tend to touch with their hands. Some viruses can live outside the body as long as 30 days. Others can survive even after 10 minutes in boiling water. People can be contagious without showing any symptoms.
Still, you don't always need to go into isolation! Here are some of the steps you can take to avoid germs:
Finally, try to keep your immune system strong by eating well, getting plenty of rest and by exercising as much as your doctor recommends. These suggestions will help you to stay “germ-free” as possible. Be sure to ask your doctor or oncologist if you have any questions.