Because of the opportunity I had to travel the world, I also had the chance to meet people from different countries and walks of life. What fascinates me the most is to meet people who suffer from serious ailments but are still positive about life, in general. In particular, I was privileged to meet a person who was suffering from a unique condition called neutropenia. I was astonished at the fact that he has to be observing a series of precautions called neutropenic precautions just to keep him healthy. Such observance takes a lot of patience, but this man does not take it negatively.
Although neutropenia normally develops among those who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, anyone can be affected by this condition. This is especially true among the elderly and people with an unhealthy lifestyle. A person with neutropenia is prone to all kinds of infection because of the relatively low level of infection-fighting white blood cells in their body called neutrophil.
Various online sources tell of different ways on how a neutropenic patient can avoid infections. I listed here 10 of the most basic ways to prevent infection:
1. Observe proper hand washing.
Good hygiene is very crucial for neutropenic patients. Aside from bathing regularly, frequent hand washing is also required. You have to wash your hands with soap and water as often as you can especially before eating, after touching dirty things, touching animals, blowing your nose, and using the bathroom. Bacteria are commonly spread through hand contact, and hand washing can prevent them from infecting you.
2. Keep away from people with infections.
Some diseases are contagious and can be spread through personal contact. Stay away from people with infectious diseases such as flu, measles and others to avoid getting infected. Also avoid going to crowded places and visiting hospitals where you could also contract these diseases. If you are in a public place, avoid contact with public surfaces such as door handles and hand rails. If you have to use or hold them, clean them with disinfectant wipes first.
3. Protect your skin.
Germs and bacteria can get inside your body through breaks in your skin. Be careful not to get scratches and cuts. If you have them, wash the area with soap and water and then cover it with a bandage.
4. Eat safe foods.
Certain foods are prohibited among neutropenic patients. These include undercooked and uncooked meat, fruits and vegetables. These are the foods you must avoid along with deli meats, raw milk and eggs, and products containing molds such as blue cheese. All other foods are safe to eat.
5. Brush your teeth.
Brushing your teeth at least twice daily can fend off oral infections. Your doctor may also recommend using a mouthwash for preventing mouth sores.
6. Be careful about getting a vaccine.
If your doctor recommends it, you may get vaccines for certain ailments such as flu. However, some vaccines may not be suitable for neutropenia patients, specifically those that contain live viruses. Before getting any vaccine shot, you must consult your doctor first.
7. Avoid people who just got vaccinated.
Contact with children and adults who just got their shot of vaccine puts you at risk of developing the disease they were vaccinated for. So avoid contact with them for now.
8. Don’t pick up your pet’s mess.
If you have a pet at home, have someone pick up their waste or clean the litter box for you to avoid bacterial infection from pet waste.
9. Avoid contact with plants.
Live plants and fresh flowers generally have germs from the soil and water. These germs can go to you if you come in contact with these germs.
10. Take medications.
It is also important to take medications prescribed by your doctor for reducing your risk of infection.
If you have a neutropenia or you know someone who is suffering from this condition, it will help them if you could also share this information.