Neutropenia (Risk of Infection)

White blood cells help protect the body from infection. Chemotherapy causes a low amount of white blood cells in the body. This condition is called neutropenia and it puts the body at a higher risk of getting an infection. When this happens, it is important to avoid infection.

Call the clinic or hospital right away if any of these symptoms occur:

  • A fever of 100.5ºF or higher
  • A general feeling of flu-like symptoms
  • Cough
  • Painful or frequent urination
  • Redness, pain, or swelling where the needle goes into a vein (IV site) or where surgery was done
  • Shaking or chills
  • Sore throat

What patients can do:

  • Ask the doctor or nurse for advice before self-treating for hemorrhoids.
  • Avoid children who recently have received "live virus" vaccines such as chickenpox and oral polio, since they may be contagious.
  • Avoid contact with animal litter boxes and waste, birdcages, and fish tanks.
  • Avoid crowds and sick people.
  • Avoid standing water (for example, birdbaths, flower vases, or humidifiers).
  • Brush teeth after each meal and at bedtime. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles.
  • Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol or peroxide.
  • Check with the doctor or nurse before having dental work done.
  • Check with the doctor before getting any immunizations such as flu or pneumonia shots.
  • Keep skin clean, and avoid cuts and scratches. Report any changes in skin, including rashes, sores, and cuts.
  • Regularly check inside the mouth for white spots on the lips, gums, or tongue. This is a sign of infection.
  • Shave with an electric razor.
  • Take your temperature regularly. Do not take temperature rectally, which can injure tissues inside the rectum. If there is a fever of 100.5ºF or higher, call the doctor or nurse right away.
  • Use moisturizing lotion for dry skin.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Wear protective gloves when gardening or cleaning up after small children.
  • Wear rubber gloves when washing dishes.

If you or a loved one is starting chemotherapy, you can register for our Chemotherapy 101 class or learn more about our Infusion Center.