How to avoid getting sick during cancer treatment

December 12, 2018 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

Your body goes through a lot when you’re going through cancer treatment. As you're learning how to cope with physical changes, you are also learning how to deal with the side effects of treatment and keep yourself healthy. Since cancer treatment can weaken your immune system, it is important for you to do everything you can to prevent the spread of infection during treatment.

Here are some simple things you can do to avoid getting sick during cold and flu season:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Be sure to wash your hands before eating and before touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth
  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Wash your hands after touching animals, collecting trash or taking out the garage
  • Wash your hands after visiting a public place or touching items used by others

If you are going to be out in the public, try to stay away from anyone with a fever, the flu or an infection.

You can also protect yourself by:

  • Carrying an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands when you’re out 
  • Using moist cleaning wipes to clean surfaces and things that you touch, such as door handles, ATM or credit card keypads and any items used by other people

What you eat and how you prepare your food is also an important part of staying healthy. A healthy diet can help you feel better and keep your body strong. Maximize your nutrition by eating:

  • A variety of plant-based foods, including beans and peas a few times a week
  • Fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals
  • Lean protein, and limiting the amount of processed and red meat
  • Low-fat dairy and reduced fat cheese 

Avoid eating deli foods or raw and undercooked meat or poultry that carry a higher risk of becoming tainted with bacteria. These include: any raw vegetable sprouts, unwashed leafy fruits or vegetables, and soft, mold-ripened or blue-veined cheeses.

The American Cancer Society recommends using a food monitor when you cook meat, eating pre-packaged breads, and washing and scrubbing all fruits and vegetables before you eat them.

Taking the time to wash your hands often and cooking food safely can help keep your body strong so you can focus on resting and recovering. If you have questions on how to stay healthy throughout treatment, talk to your care team. Your care team may recommend other strategies, including a preventative antibiotic, to keep you from getting an infection.

Related blogs:

Eat this or that: eating well and fighting cancer

How to stay nourished during cancer treatment

Foods to avoid during cancer treatment

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