The first step to taking care of yourself is being aware of the health risks you face post transplant:
After your transplant, life can be very stressful. It's normal to feel nervous or depressed to some degree. Your family may have similar feelings.
If your family or you experience any of these emotions, ask your transplant team about counseling services, support groups, or resources that can help you all understand transplantation and how to live post transplant.
Some of your medications can also affect the way you feel emotionally. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have so that he or she can put together a plan that works for you.
Your medications reduce your body's immune response. As a result, risk for skin cancer is significantly increased after transplantation.
Here are some tips for keeping your skin protected:
Excellent dental care is essential for everyone. However, it's especially important for someone who's had a transplant. That's because oral problems can lead to oral infections, which can release bacteria into your bloodstream. The medications you take to help prevent rejection unfortunately also put you at a higher risk for infection.
To reduce your risk, stay on top of your oral hygiene by:
When visiting your dentist, it's important to tell them which medications you're currently taking, including any immunosuppressive medications you might be on.
Also, before having any dental work done, including teeth cleaning, you may be advised to take an antibiotic to help prevent infection. Be sure to consult with your transplant physician to decide if an antibiotic is needed. If so, your transplant team can provide you with a letter letting your dentist know that you'll need a prescription for an antibiotic, and which antibiotic is recommended.
Reduced bone health is a common problem in the years after a transplant. This may be due to reduced kidney function or the long-term use of certain medications.
When your bone health is reduced, you're at increased risk for osteoporosis, a disease where your bones become weak and brittle. If left untreated, osteoporosis can lead to fractures or tiny breaks, commonly found in your spine, hips, and wrists.
Talk to your transplant team about your risk for post transplant osteoporosis and treatments to help protect your bone strength. These may include:
If you're taking anti-rejection medications post transplant, you may be at increased risk for heart disease or stroke. That's because anti-rejection medications may increase your cholesterol levels and/or your blood pressure. If cholesterol levels get too high, blood vessels may become partially clogged, slowing or blocking the flow of blood.
Eating foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol can also raise your blood cholesterol to unhealthy levels.