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.
You might feel tired a lot (fatigue). This might be caused by your myeloma 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.
If you have osteoporosis (the weakening of bones, making them more likely to fracture from minor impact) it’s advisable to keep as mobile and active as you can within your own limitations. It’s also best to avoid strenuous activity – for example, lifting heavy things, and take special care to avoid falling. Compliance with your bone strengthening treatment (bisphosphonates) will also help reduce the impact of osteoporosis.
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.
A diet for people with a weakened immune system is known as a ‘neutropenic diet’.
Our Eating well with neutropenia booklet has more information on the neutropenic diet.
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Because the paraprotein or calcium in blood can damage your kidneys it’s very important to drink plenty of water. Unless you’re told otherwise, it’s best to drink at least three litres (about five pints) in total every day.
It’s a good idea for all myeloma patients 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 myeloma but will still offer some protection. If you have myeloma, avoid having any live vaccines. Fortunately only a few vaccines are live – including yellow fever, oral polio vaccine, measles and shingles.
Babies who have received the oral (by mouth) polio vaccine will pass live virus in their stools (faeces). Because of this, avoid contact with their nappies and the contents – there’s a risk of getting polio, as well as the risk of general infection from their stools.
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 – for example, if you have myeloma.
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.