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Being Careful About Infections

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Miceli_Teresa_S Mayo 12.10.08.jpgMonitoring for infection is crucial for people with MM. For many people, their MM diagnosis came after experiencing pneumonia, shingles or some other infection. Myeloma compromises the immune function by disturbing the normal production of infection fighting antibodies. Therapies to treat myeloma also have the potential to compromise a person's ability to fight infection. As a result of compromised immune function, people are at risk of infection that could result in hospitalization or even death.

Awareness - Infections can occur from sources you already have in your body. For example, varicella zoster, or "shingles", is the reactivation of the herpes virus that causes Chicken Pox. Once exposed, the virus remains in our body for a lifetime. At times of immune compromise, it can become active. Infections can also be acquired from other people, food and water sources and environmental contaminants.

Prevention - There are ways to protect against infection. The simplest but most valuable is hand washing. It sounds too easy to be true, but hand washing with soap and water or liquid anti-septic solutions can reduce your exposure risk. At times when you know you are at greater risk due to treatment, avoid large crowds. When on treatment, your health care provider may prescribe preventative antibiotics. It is a common practice for patients receiving bortezomib (Velcade) to take an antiviral medication such as acyclovir to prevent "shingles".

Action - You are your own best advocate. If you develop any symptoms that indicate you have an infection, you should contact your health care provider. Symptoms may include fever, shaking chills, sore throat, diarrhea, sinus drainage or productive cough that is green in color, or shortness of breath. Skin wounds that are red, tender or have drainage may be infected. Shingles becomes active in a nerve track (dermatome) and tends to be a painful, red rash that has pimples, or fluid filled pustules. Often times the start of this rash is mistaken for a spider bite, but instead of getting better, it worsens. The earlier treatment is started, the better chance there is to reduce long term pain issues. Always contact your health care provider if you have any symptoms that may indicate an active infection.

Teresa Miceli, RN BSN OCN
BMT Nurse Coordinator
Mayo Clinic - Rochester

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1 Comment

Thank you so much for your information.
It is most helpful.
Just found this great site.
Keep up the good work.
I was diagnosed with MM in 2012, now on Velcade and Dex.
Revlamid Or Revlamed made me very ill. Renal and Lung failure for 2 weeks. Needed 4 additional weeks in a facility to recover.
Best wishes
Liz in Pa

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