Changes in your condition
You might need to live with symptoms for a long time – your healthcare team will be able to give you advice on how to cope with them.
When you’ve finished your treatment it’s important to contact your healthcare team at the hospital straight away if you notice any new symptoms, don’t wait for your next check-up. Symptoms to watch out for include:
- swollen glands
- a temperature
- increasing fatigue
- night sweats.
You might feel tired a lot (fatigue). This might be caused by your condition and isn’t the same as normal tiredness which improves with rest and sleep.
While even the idea of doing something can be tiring if you’ve got fatigue, try to keep as active as you can because evidence shows that this could help to make your symptoms less severe.
Although staying active may help, there’s no evidence of any particular exercise programme improving your condition or how you respond to treatment.
Similarly, there’s no evidence that any special diet will improve your condition or how you respond to treatment. However, you’re likely to feel fitter and healthier if you follow general advice on good diet from your hospital or GP.
Because your immune system may not be working as normal, you’ll need to take extra care to avoid infections that you might get from food. Your body won’t be able to destroy germs and resist infection as easily, so be careful about food ‘use by’ dates and things like keeping cooked and raw meat separate in the fridge.
You may hear healthcare professionals talk about a neutropenic diet. This means a diet for people with a weakened immune system. Your healthcare team will talk to you about this.
> Download or order our Eating well with neutropenia booklet for more advice on avoiding infections from food.
It’s a good idea to have the flu vaccine each year. Your GP might contact you about this, but if they don’t then you can request the vaccine yourself. It might not work as well for people with leukaemia but will still offer some protection.
If you have leukaemia, avoid having any live vaccines during your active treatment. Fortunately only a few vaccines used in the UK are live. The most commonly used ones are MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) and shingles. The yellow fever vaccine, occasionally needed for travel to certain areas, is also a live vaccine.
Shingles is the infection of a nerve and the skin around it. It can affect you if you’ve had chickenpox, even if you had it a long time ago, as it’s caused by the same virus, which can lie dormant in your body for years. You’re more likely to get shingles if your immune system isn’t working well. The drug acyclovir is usually given to all patients during leukaemia treatment to prevent this from happening.
Shingles has some quite obvious symptoms. If you think you have it, let your GP or specialist know as quickly as possible (within 24 hours of the rash appearing is best). If it’s treated early the symptoms won’t be as bad.
- a rash, normally on one side of your body
- an itching, tingling or burning feeling
- pain where the rash is
- blisters filled with fluid which burst and form sores which then crust over
You can’t catch shingles from someone who has it, but you can catch chickenpox from someone with an open shingles sore, if you haven’t had chickenpox already.