The whole world is on guard about the coronavirus. Because you have chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL, you need to be extra careful.
CLL makes your immune system not work as well as it should. This makes it easier for you to get infections, including with the new coronavirus. CLL also puts you at higher risk for serious complications if you do get COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
But there are steps you can take to help defend yourself against the virus.
How to Lower Your Risk for COVID-19
Coronavirus mainly spreads from person to person. Following the precautions for the general public can help lower your risk. Ask the people close to you to follow them, too. Be extra careful to:
Maintain distance. Keep about 6 feet of space between yourself and other people. Don’t just stay away from people who are sick. COVID-19 can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms.
Keep tissues handy. Use a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw it away and wash your hands. Or cough into your elbow instead of your hand.
Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Also wash them after you’ve been in a public place.
Can’t wash up? Use hand sanitizer. Soap and water are preferred, but if you don’t have access to them, hand sanitizer is OK. Use one that contains at least 60% alcohol. Rub it on all parts of your hands and let it air dry.
Hands off. Try to not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you’ve just washed your hands.
Clean and disinfect all surfaces you touch a lot. These include things like doorknobs, light switches, phones, and remotes. Use regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
What Else You Can Do
Since CLL puts you at a higher risk for infection, it’s a good idea to take these extra steps:
Stay at home as much as you can. Limit travel. If possible, work from home.
Talk with your doctor about setting up telehealth visits instead of in-person visits. Many patients and doctors are finding they like this new way of communicating for routine follow-up visits. You might be able to safely reschedule some treatment appointments, too. Ask your doctor about this.
When you must go out, avoid crowds and wear a face mask or covering. Cloth face coverings can help slow the spread of the virus. This is especially important if you’re somewhere where you can’t maintain social distancing.
Keep cloth masks clean by adding them to your laundry in a washing machine.
When you take off your face mask or covering, be sure you don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Wash your hands right away.
While there’s not a lot of science to support these efforts to prevent infection, you might also want to:
- Open windows and doors as much as possible to improve ventilation and airflow in your home.
- Wear gloves to clean and disinfect, but not for other reasons. Good handwashing is the key. Gloves aren’t needed for routine activities. If you choose to wear gloves, follow the same guidelines as you would with bare hands.
Stay as healthy as you can by doing these things:
- Don’t use tobacco, and stay away from other people’s tobacco smoke.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Eat a lot of vegetables and fruits.
- Be physically active.
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.