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Avoiding infections

Myeloma and its treatments, such as chemotherapy (which can reduce your white blood cell count), can affect your body's ability to fight off infections, leaving you more susceptible to them.

There are things you can do to help reduce your chance of getting infections – which is particularly important if you have recently undergone high-dose therapy and stem cell transplantation.

  • Try to avoid being in enclosed spaces like buses or trains when they are very busy.
  • Ask your friends not to visit if they (or anybody in their household) have a cold, the flu or other infections, such as measles, chickenpox and shingles.
  • Make sure the food you eat is as fresh as possible, that fruits and vegetables are carefully washed, and that meat is well cooked, to avoid picking up a "stomach bug."

Be on the lookout for signs of infection, such as:

  • Cough or sore throat.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Feeling generally unwell or feverish.
  • Pain, redness or swelling around a cut or wound, or around the entry port of your HICKMAN® catheter or Port-a-Cath, if you have one.
  • Temperature above 38ºC.
  • Rash.
  • Shivering.

Let your doctor know if you think you may have an infection. A course of antibiotics from your family physician may resolve the infection. However, if the infection persists, you may need to go to the hospital to receive antibiotics intravenously.   

Protecting your kidneys

There are a number of ways myeloma can affect your kidneys. Kidney problems can be caused by the myeloma itself and/or by the drugs used to treat it.

Drinking at least two litres of water each day is a good way to help protect your kidneys. If you find that difficult to do, try to drink small quantities of water at frequent intervals throughout the day, so it becomes a habit.

You should also avoid taking very large doses of vitamin C (i.e., more than 500 mg per day) that add acidity to your urine, and could potentially damage your kidneys.