12 Things You Need To Know About Getting Flu If You Are A Cancer Patient Or Survivor

Aahh-choo; there goes another sneeze and there goes another tissue box with it. And that’s how we all welcome the seasonal flu virus, don’t we?

But is flu same for all of us or do some of us have to go an extra mile in order to be more careful at treating this seasonal flu under certain circumstances?
Despite the apparent omnipotence of flu virus, some people require extra care to get treated for influenza virus.

Cancer Patients And Cancer Survivors Should Be On A Watch For Influenza Virus

Time is shortening. But every day that I challenge this cancer and survive is a victory for me.” Ingrid Bergman

While, dealing with cancer might have made your will stronger, and turned you into a warrior who would care less about “trivial” seasonal infections, you need to realize that influenza can get you hospitalized. As appalling as it sounds, the risks of complications, which are the combined effect of flu and cancer, can sometimes become deadly.

“…ain’t no mountain high. Ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough….”

 

Cancer Virus in Flu Vaccine

 

We are sure, you are a warrior who will walk out victorious from this battlefield as well. And since we are on your side let us inform you who your enemy is and how you will destroy it.

1.Weakened Immunity Is Your First Enemy

Cancer treatment weakens your immunity which gives influenza virus an open invitation to prey on you like a hungry hound.

This particularly makes it important for you to prevent yourself from getting infected in the first place and if you have already been infected, then see your doctor at the soonest.

2.Cancer Can Complicate Flu

While nothing can be said for sure, research has shown that the presence of cancer can complicate the common flu symptoms which can get fatal.

But, things are not all too bad. You have to be watchful if you are receiving chemotherapy, radiotherapy, biological therapy or/and long-term steroids as your cancer treatment, according to the Cancer Research UK.

In other cases, if you suffer or have suffered in the past with cancer which directly affected your bone marrow (disrupting the production of immune cells) then you have to be vigilant about people with flu. Apart from taking the necessary medical precautions and help, stay away from them!

These cancer types include leukemia (cancer of blood cells), lymphoma (cancer of lymphocytes) and myeloma (cancer of plasma cells)

3.Seasonal Flu Shots Are Your Sincerest Friends

It is important for you to get flu shots to protect yourself from getting the infection. It’s time to test your family’s love for you. Just kidding, they surely love you and could do anything to see you as a healthier being. So, grab them by the arm and make sure they get flu shots too. This way, you will be shielded from catching flu from people around you.

Oh, wait! Do you have friends who show up to see you every now and then? Lucky you, cherish being around people whose love for you is sincere and selfless. Force them to get flu shots as well; they will definitely be up for it.

4.But Is Shot Flu Really What You Need?

Yes, you really need to get these flu shots, they are very important for you. Often, seasonal flu is accompanied by fever, tiredness, cough and body aches which can get better within 2 weeks. However, your suppressed immunity due to cancer can make matters worse and complicate life for you.

So, as soon as the flu shots are available for the coming season, which according to the American Cancer Society is a time around October; get done with them and cut one worry off your list.

5.Here Is How Flu Vaccine Help You To Be Exact

The flu vaccines a.k.a flu shots lead to increased antibody production in your body which helps fight off antigens that enter your body as you catch the virus. These antiviral shots strength your immunity and this immunity shield becomes effective 2 weeks after you get the seasonal shot. Therefore, it is best to get the vaccine as soon as possible.

6.But I Got The Flu Shots Just Last Year. Do I Need Them Again?

Influenza virus is smarter than us.

Our strengthened immunity as a result of getting flu shots doesn’t stay with us for eternity and we have to strike back at the influenza virus harder every time with better immunity, before the flu makes us its prey.

CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months should get flu vaccine every season, so ladies and gentlemen chalk it down on your to-do list before you forget!

Cancer patients and cancer survivors are advised to get inactivated vaccines which are made from dead virus.

After getting the flu shot, you can experience mild side effects, like low grade fever, aches, redness, soreness or swelling at the site of injection, but there is nothing to freak about. It is absolutely normal.

On the contrary, live vaccines made from live but weakened virus, given in form of nasal spray should not be taken by cancer patients and survivors.

7.Nasal Sprays Are Not For You

As these nasal sprays have attenuated virus in them, your already weak immunity may fail to handle the weakened but alive virus and things can backfire.

8.Egg allergies, Anyone?

If you are allergic to eggs or some other ingredient being used in the vaccine, you should talk it out with your doctor before getting the flu shot. Deprivation from Spanish omelets was already brutal but things can go worse if you get the flu shot and an allergic response is triggered.

9.Antiviral Drugs Can Help As Well

If you in vicinity of somebody who has the flu, then it’s time to be alarmed. By vicinity, we precisely mean that if someone with the flu is at a distance of six feet 91.8 m). Call your doctor who is likely to prescribe some antiviral drugs to make prevent you from getting the flu in the first place. And if you have had caught it already, then the drugs will help reduce your illness.

These antiviral drugs can work best if taken within 2 days of the onset of flu symptoms.

10.This Is How You Would Know If You Have Flu

Flu will remain the same old annoying creature. You know you have flu if you have a stuffy or runny nose, chills, cough, headache, body aches, sore throat and/or extreme tiredness (basically, if something is wrong you can blindly blame it on flu). Others can also experience diarrhea and vomiting while having flu.

11.Watch Out For Pneumococcal Diseases

Your weakened immunity as gifted by your cancer also makes you more prone to giving in to pneumococcal diseases so it’s better to get pneumococcal shots as well.

12.Prevention Is Better Than Cure, After all

Get your germophobe hat on and set your germ-detecting radars at the right position.
American Cancer Society suggests simple ways for the prevention of flu.:
As the virus can spread from one person to another through contaminated droplets, cleanliness is your most important weapon.

Avoid contact with sick people, it may sound rude but your health is more important than what others think of you. You are allowed to wash your hands repeatedly and to invest on alcohol based sanitizers and wipes.  Avoid touching your nose and eyes and just do not put fingers in your mouth.

As you sneeze or cough, cover your face with a tissue and trash it properly after use. Avoid contact with school going children; they might give you flu which they caught just in the morning from a classmate.

If you get flu, take the medications as prescribed by a doctor, stay at home and snuggle down in bed.

Reference list:

 http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/infectionsinpeoplewithcancer/should-i-get-a-flu-shot

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/flu/

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/cancer-questions/should-i-have-the-flu-vaccine

https://www.mskcc.org/blog/should-patients-get-flu-vaccine-during-treatment

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/cancerflu/index.htm

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