HEPA air filter questions

Hi everybody :slightly_smiling_face: Oh my, will cold season ever stop? Hopefully in the spring or summer? Here I am housebound once more, avoiding crowds until my latest cold goes away. I seem to catch a cold twice a month since diagnosis, and I used to catch colds maybe once every two years. Thank goodness for remote working.

Have any of you tried HEPA filters? Do they help with immunity in our specific case? I am trying to have realistic expectations for myself. I always enjoyed “boosting my immunity” with various herbs and such but perhaps that is not realistic anymore with defective white blood cells, or I must switch to other approaches.

I never had an air filter in my home before. I even saw there are ones you can wear around your neck, are those legitimate? Thanks so much.

(I used the search feature but couldn’t find this specific topic separately, although HEPA filters have been mentioned within a few posts.)

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Hi @Calathea yes, it sure is the cold and flu season and once I get run down it takes me a long time to build back up…
As for your HEPA air filter question, I am sorry I have no experience of them. I am hoping others can help you.
I will copy your post to the Blood Cancer UK nurses just in case they have any experiences @BloodCancerUK_Nurses
Yes, thank goodness for remote working.
Really look after yourself and let us know your decision

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Dear @Calathea
May I ask whether you have spoken to your Haematology team about the regular respiratory illnesses you are experiencing? It may be worth talking to them about this and you can also ask them about HEPA filters too.
I must admit my knowledge of HEPA filters is reserved to those in hospital environments for the highest risk patient. I would suspect to get the optimum affect from home filters you would need to place them all over the home. As for those you wear around the neck, I am unsure how they would work efficiently. The best way to prevent respiratory transmission is:

*Good/regular handwashing
*Social distancing
*Mask wearing in crowded areas
*Keeping up with seasonal and COVID vaccinations
*Avoiding those with respiratory illnesses where possible until their symptoms are resolved for >2 days
Living safely with respiratory infections, including COVID-19 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
So sorry not to be of more help and I do hope you feel better soon.
Kind regards
Gemma

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Thanks, Gemma. No, I haven’t spoken to my hematologist about it. My next appointment is in June. I guess I thought this was just par for the course, it’s all still so new. I will look at that link, thanks.

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Hello there @Calathea, sorry to hear about that latest cold. Know what you mean about wondering when cold season will end! I caught some lurgy late last year that seemed to take ages to fade, which turned out to be RSV. It felt worse than colds I’ve had previously. Thankfully still not had COVID-19, somehow just from wearing masks in busy places and keeping my hands clean, like dear @GemmaBloodCancerUK suggests. I still carry around a little homemade lavender oil and 75 % alcohol hand spray!

Sounds like you use herbal remedies too, and I’ve been trying to boost my immunity in natural ways while I take the decidedly unnatural hydroxyurea every day. Making sure to get enough vitamin C and zinc can boost our immunities, as I’m sure you know. I sometimes take a dose of concentrated cranberry powder mixed with a bit of orange juice to give me a burst of vitamin C and antioxidants. Those Emergen-C tablets are good too, and not just for hangovers!

Where I live it’s common to have “central air” that circulates hot or cool air around, rather than radiators. These have a HEPA filter as they’d otherwise just suck in and blow around dust and whatever else is in the air if it wasn’t filtered, including food smells! I find that if I keep the HEPA filter clean then the air stays less dusty—I’m sensitive to all the schmutz in the air usually and sneeze more when it’s not filtered. Don’t know if they help with our immunity but they can clean the air around you, especially if you have a portable one.

You might want to google something like “best portable hepa filter” and you’ll likely find links to the New York Times/Wirecutter and Tom’s Guide and so on suggesting which filters are good. There’s a brand called Coway that make simple, reasonably priced filters.

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Hi @Calathea

AllergyUK is good place for info on air purifiers/Hepa filters and where to buy. They used to quality test products for allergy sufferers.

A good alternative to keep rooms well ventilated.

Best wishes
Helen
Hepa filters have to be washed and/or replaced so there is an ongoing cost.

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Thanks, Duncan, I must admit I’ve been dragging my heels to go back to wearing a mask :sob: but I’ll trial it and see if it makes a difference. I truly miss the filters on central heating, I really notice more dust living in a building with water radiators.

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Thanks, Helen, I’ll check that out!

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Know what you mean about masks. I can get occasional weird looks from others when I put mine on, and I just realised I don’t care anymore! They helped me get through the pandemic plus I’ve grown to enjoy how they block out other nasty smells :rofl:

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Hiyall, I went with a Breville model recommended at AllergyUK, thanks again @helenfwallace! It just arrived today so I’ll see if it improves air quality. With two cats, I’ll probably immediately notice for example if there is less cat fur floating about lol.

The cough is gradually going away, finally remembered Gram’s old remedy of mustard seed for lung ailments and made myself a nice big homemade soup generous on the mustard seed so perhaps that helped things along. Actually my healthy brother-in-law had something similar to my cough. So maybe this pesky virus had nothing to do with my leukemia and is this bad for other people, too…

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Just had a thought at your mention of your cats and I wonder if you’ve become more sensitive to them, maybe since diagnosis? I’ve never really had issues with allergies around animal companions… until recently. I imagine having a weaker immune system from cancer treatment could mean I’m more sensitive to even the hypoallergenic poodle I spend a lot of time with.

Also worth remembering that during the pandemic we missed the usual seasonal viruses thanks to wearing masks and avoiding others, but now we’re out in the world not masking up so much and are more likely to catch viruses again, but with our weaker immunities not able to defend against them so well. That’s why I think the RSV I caught late last year affected me so strongly, when previously I didn’t even worry about colds etc. I’d still rather not ever get COVID-19, of course, so have never stopped masking up in busy places. Just some non-medical ponderings :thought_balloon:

Glad you’ve found an air filter, keep us posted about how well it works!

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Thanks, Duncan. Another friend also suggested getting tested for cat dander allergy. That would utterly break my heart but maybe I’ll get around to that. I have a two-year-old who was a lot of work to tame, she’s semi-feral and only trusts me, hides around everyone else.

Regarding Covid I have a different “philosophical” stance, for lack of a better word: I never felt I could avoid it forever, any more than we could totally avoid that other coronavirus known as the common cold. Even during the pandemic, I said things like “haven’t caught it yet”, or “when I get it…” not “if I get it”.

And oddly enough, I haven’t had it yet! I credit vitamin D, K, zinc and black cumin oil. However I was also sick as a dog once back in the 2000s - as in thinking “now I know how you can die from the flu” - and the idea has crossed my mind - did I have the original SARS, and if so, could I have cross-immunity? Impossible to prove, of course. But it still amazes me that I have never caught Covid despite being very directly exposed at least three times (socializing and hugging friends and having them call me the next day to tell me they had symptoms. We had no centrally organized tracking in France like you did in the UK, as I understand, some app you all had?).

Will keep yall posted on the filter :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi @Calathea I am glad that your cough gradually going away and Good old Gram I often think our grandmother’s remedies knew best.
Let us know how the Breville goes.
My none medical thought is the ‘pesky virus’, which was rife round here, was not caused by my leukaemia, but my leukaemia compromised immune system made me more susceptible to it.
Really look after yourself

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Know what you mean about heartbreaking—our animal companions are so important to our mental health (and us to theirs) but becoming allergic would be yet another blow. Hopefully your cats aren’t allergens!

While I’ve never tested positive for COVID-19, I did get bird flu back in the day when working with children so that would have strengthened my resistance to that, but obviously that’s a whole other kind of virus to COVID-19 so I’m unsure if there’s any overlap in immunity.

Not heard about those vitamins helping ward off COVID-19, I’m intrigued! I did read a research paper a few years into the pandemic that linked daily CBD usage as a potential defence against COVID-19, something about its anti-inflammatory efficacy stopping parts of the virus from infecting us. I’ve taken CBD for years due to its benefits for inflammation and anxiety. I’ll see if I can find the paper to share here, but I’ll add that I’m not a doctor and understand that CBD isn’t legal everywhere as it is the non-psychoactive part of cannabis and hemp plants.

Although I’m British, I no longer live in the UK and so I’m unsure about the tracking you mean. When I visited during the height of the pandemic there was an NHS app that gave permission to enter restaurants and businesses but I couldn’t use it (being ‘foreign’) but was still able to enter places where customers took off their masks anyway, so it all seemed slightly pointless!

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Here’s the link to the CBD and COVID-19 research, should it be of interest @Calathea and others; “At non-toxic doses, the reproduction of the virus was strongly inhibited by CBD”: Two cannabinoids have opposing effects on SARS-CoV-2 in culture | Ars Technica

Here’s another article that rounds up info about cannabis use which includes CBD research; “[T]hree of the naturally occurring compounds in hemp (cannabis sativa) appear to be able to attach to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, blocking it from entering human cells”: Weed won't prevent Covid-19, but scientists are finding surprising cannabis connections

Hi @Duncan,
Really interesting reads and perhaps we will understand more about this in future. However we feel it is important to highlight that Blood Cancer UK cannot endorse treatments which have not yet been approved through NICE ( national institute for health & care excellence) We worry the outcomes of these small studies could be interpreted as medical advice and offer inappropriate security for some.

We would always encourage people to speak to their treating teams if they have any questions.

If anyone has an interested in this area- we have info on complimentary and alternative therapies, here - [Complementary and alternative therapies | Blood Cancer UK] https://bloodcancer.org.uk/understanding-blood-cancer/treatment/complementary-and-alternative-therapies/))

Also as always our team are happy to offer guidance on any question you may have around this- 0808 2080 888.

Best Wishes, Lauran

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Thanks, @LauranBloodCancerUK :slightly_smiling_face:

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I absolutely agree @LauranBloodCancerUK. Thank you for the reminder about complimentary treatments and cancer. I should add more obvious caveats that I am not suggesting CBD can help our cancers and that I am not medically trained to even suggest that, hopefully I didn’t come across that way!

And like you say, the research cohort was small so CBD needs further study with far more people to offer more evidence of efficacy. There’s research going on in the US and elsewhere, but I understand it needs to have NICE evaluation and approval in the UK and this is a British forum after all.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that clinical approval occurs. Personally I’d rather take organic oil from a plant that successfully offsets anxiety with no side effects than, say, a largely ineffective antidepressant that can come with many contraindications, especially considering the number of medicines I already have to take.

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