The top tips for managing winter viruses

Our Myeloma Information Service team’s top tips on managing winter viruses For specific information about COVID-19, please see our COVID-19 Information Hub.

Other News // 19th February 2020

Myeloma, as many of you are aware, inherently affects how well the immune system responds to infection. As a result, patients are at increased risk of infection, even when their myeloma is in remission or is stable – although the frequency of infection varies from patient to patient. In recent times, viral infections have become a hot topic in the wider community so we felt it was important to share some of our top tips for avoiding infections.

What is a virus?

When most people hear the word “virus,” they think of disease-causing (pathogenic) viruses such as the common cold, influenza, chickenpox, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and others. Viruses can affect many areas in the body, including the respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems.

Common symptoms of a viral infections include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle ache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache

What are best practical measures I can take to reduce my risk of viruses?

Sometimes myeloma patients are prescribed antiviral medication, especially when their individual situation means they are at increased risk (i.e. during treatment or after a high dose therapy and stem cell transplantation). However the best way to protect yourself from infections, is by frequent hand-washing. We also know that covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, disposing of tissues after use and avoiding contact with people that have any obvious signs or symptoms of infection also help to reduce the risk. Research has shown us that these simple common sense practices are the best way to reduce risk of infection.

We always recommend that patients have their annual flu jab and keep up to date with their pneumococcal vaccine (every 5 yrs).

As always, if you have any particularly concerns about any symptoms you may be experiencing, please do speak to your team at the hospital (Clinical nurse specialist or Haematologist) or your GP in the first instance.

Should I be concerned about the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Myeloma patients, even those in remission, are at increased risk of COVID-19. Myeloma affects how well the immune system responds to infection as it suppresses the production of healthy immune cells (white blood cells).

Your susceptibility to infection is regularly monitored by your doctor (haematologist) or clinical nurse specialist (CNS) using blood tests to measure your white blood cell count. You should discuss any specific concerns you have with your healthcare team who are best placed to advise you.

For the latest advice and guidance on COVID-19, please visit our dedicated information hub.


If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Myeloma Infoline-0800 980 3332 – for information about myeloma, practical advice and a little extra support.

Ask the Nurse email– Prefer typing to talking about myeloma? Our team of specialists are also contactable by email:

The Myeloma Information Service Team, Myeloma UK

Myeloma Information Specialist

Sarah Dempsey- Myeloma Information Specialist