Thursday, September 19, 2019

Germs and Cancer

Cancer and cancer treatments can weaken your immune system and make it hard for it to protect your body against germs. Chemotherapy, for example, can lower the number of white blood cells you have. Because their job is to stop infections, it makes it tougher for your body to fight germs.(web source)

Infection is one of the most common life-threatening complications of cancer and cancer treatment. This is because cancer and cancer treatment weaken the immune system. The immune system is a complex system by which the body resists and fights infection by germs, such as bacteria or viruses.(web source)

Wash your hands. Do it often, and use soap and water. Wash them before you eat and before you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Always clean up after you go to the bathroom, sneeze, cough, or blow your nose. Other times to wash: after you handle trash, go to a public place, or touch an animal. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you in case you can't get to soap and water when you're out and about.

Don't eat deli foods, free food samples, or yogurt and ice cream products from soft-serve machines. Skip foods bought from self-serve or bulk bins. Don't buy dented cans or pre-cut fruits and veggies.

Be careful around people. If you know that someone has a fever, cold, flu, or any other infection, stay away from them until they feel better. It's also best to skip large groups of people, so avoid shopping, schools, traveling, and crowds. If you do go out in public, use cleaning wipes before you touch door handles, elevator buttons, ATM keypads, or any other surface used by a lot of people.

Watch what you touch. Try not to change diapers. If you do, wash your hands as soon as possible when you’re done. Don't clean up after your pet in the yard, and don't touch dirt that could have animal droppings in it. Let someone else change the litter boxes, clean the birdcage, or clean the fish or turtle tanks.

Don't share. Don't use the same glasses, utensils, or food as others. Don't share towels, toothbrushes, or makeup, either.

Germs are tiny organisms (microorganisms) that can cause infections. Examples include: (web source)
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Protozoa
  • Fungi (the plural of fungus)

Biologists believe that bacteria are a separate type of life form – they’re different from plants and animals. Bacteria are the smallest forms of life. Most infections in people with cancer are caused by bacteria, including:

  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Salmonella
  • Clostridium difficile (C. diff)
  • Staphylococcus aureus (Staph aureus)
  • Staphylococcus epidemidis (Staph epi)
  • Streptococcus viridans
  • Pneumococcus
  • Enterococcus
Viruses are the smallest known germs. Unlike bacteria, they’re not really alive because they can’t grow on their own. Viruses can only make new viruses when they are inside living cells, such as human, animal, or plant cells.
Most viral infections in people with very low white blood cell counts are caused by:
  • Varicella zoster virus (VZV), the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles
  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV), the virus that causes cold sores and genital herpes
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Other viruses, such as respiratory and hepatitis viruses, may cause problems, too.
Protozoa are one-celled creatures thought to be the smallest and simplest form of animals. Some protozoa can infect people who have healthy immune systems. But these infections happen more often in less-developed countries than in the United States. In the US, protozoa mostly cause disease in people with weak immune systems. People who have organ transplants, cancer, AIDS, or other diseases can get life-threatening infections with protozoa. Common protozoa that can cause serious illness in people with cancer include

  • Toxoplasma gondii
  • Cryptosporidium

In humans, fungi can live in balance with other germs that normally live on or in the body without causing symptoms or damage. But fungal infections can happen when there are changes in this balanced environment. Things that can change the normal balance include:
  • Damage to the skin or mucous membranes
  • Low white blood cell counts
  • A weak immune system
  • Fewer bacteria than normal on the body’s surfaces or mucous membranes (such as the intestines or vagina), which often happens with antibiotic treatment.

Fungal infections can be serious and even deadly.
People with cancer can get many different types of infections. These infections differ in their risk factors, the symptoms they cause, how they are treated, and the chance of curing the infection.
If you have an infection, it’s important for your doctor to know: (web source)

  1. The part of your body affected
  2. The type of germ causing the infection

Your signs and symptoms (for instance, where you have pain, redness, and/or swelling) help your doctor know what tests are needed to find the cause of the infection. The results of certain tests (such as x-rays, CT scans, or lab tests done on body fluids) help pinpoint where the infection is.
Common sites of infection in people with cancer include:

  • The skin and mucous membranes (soft linings, like inside the mouth, vagina, and intestines)
  • The digestive system (mouth, esophagus [swallowing tube], stomach, and intestines)
  • The lungs and breathing passages (sinuses and throat)
  • The urinary system (bladder and kidneys)
  • The nervous system (brain and spinal cord)
  • The skin and tissue around a central venous catheter (CVC). A CVC is a tube or catheter put in a vein that is used to draw blood and give IV drugs or fluids.

Because infections in people with cancer can quickly get worse, treatment is usually started before culture and sensitivity results are back. Treatment may be changed after the lab tests have identified the exact germ and which drug will work best to treat it. (web Source)

Doctors know which germs tend to infect certain body parts of people with cancer. So they can often make an educated guess at which germs are most likely causing a patient’s infection. Educated guesses are very important because it can take many days to get the results of tests that show the exact type of germ causing an infection and which drug will best stop or kill it.

Fever, swelling, pain, and other signs of infection in a person known to have a weak immune system are treated as medical emergencies. Antibiotics are started right away.After a physical exam, lab tests, cultures, and sometimes even imaging studies or special procedures will be done. This will help the doctor find out exactly where the infection is and help figure out which germ may be causing it. Then antibiotics (which can be anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, or anti-protozoal drugs) are started quickly. (See “Identifying germs” in the section called “How does the doctor know what kind of infection a person has?”) After the exact germ is identified, the same antibiotics may be continued, or new ones may be started if the tests show others would work better.
If you think that you may have a cold, virus etc. please contact your doctor.

sick people.... (venting)

Don’t touch me! 👀

OMG my kid has a runny nose. Yours too, just great!

Yeah it happens to every parent, but for a cancer patient its like the word is going to end.(or that's how it feels)  I mean boogers and snot and coughing and picking the nose like, WHY ME!!!!! 

The doctors and nurses condition us to not be around sick people. To wear your mask at almost all times and stay home and not go out in public and to stay away from sick people but the reality is you can’t always do that. I can’t tell you how many times my son has had a stuffy nose during my battle. I mean he even had the flu in 2018 and as a parent all I wanted to do was be there for him ( and I was). I remember my doctor telling me to leave the house for a few days and of course I didn’t listen. I mean were can you draw the line? I know that as a patient I am not supposed to be around sick people but my child is different.I am his parent and whether I am sick or not I will do everything in my will to make sure he is okay. I also don’t want to be shamed by my doctor if I end up getting sick because I took are of my child while they were sick. You know?  I can’t be the only one that feels this way.  Email me or comment if feel the pressure from your doctor to stay away from sick people even if they are your kids.

what would you be feeeling???

Being diagnosed with cancer isn’t easy, and unless you have been in that situation its hard to understand. Imagine living your life,...