Managing Your Health After an Organ Transplant
Self-Monitoring at Home
In addition to the tests that you undergo at regular follow-up visits, you will need to do some self-monitoring at home. Among the things you'll need to monitor are:
Weight. Weigh yourself daily at the same time, preferably in the morning. Call your doctor if you gain 2 pounds in a day or more than 5 pounds total.
Temperature. Take your temperature daily. Call your doctor if your temperature is too high.
Blood pressure. Check your blood pressure as recommended by your doctor.
Pulse. Check your pulse daily. Call your doctor if it's higher than the normal resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute. (If you've had a heart transplant, your resting heart rate may be as high as 110 to 120 beats per minute.)
Blood sugar. Monitor your blood sugar if you have high blood sugar or diabetes.
Anti-rejection drugs can interact with many other medications or supplements. So check with your doctor or pharmacist about safe over-the-counter products you can take.
Anti-rejection drugs increase your risk of dental problems. These include:
Brush and floss your teeth each day. Also look inside your mouth and under your tongue each day. Call your dentist if you notice any changes or problems.
Adopting a Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle is important for everyone. But it's especially important after an organ transplant. Poor lifestyle habits can increase the risk of organ rejection.
Be sure to avoid unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and excessive drinking. Embrace healthy behaviors such as:
- A nutritious diet
- Stress management
Your transplant dietitian will give you tips for following a healthy diet. These may include:
- Eat high-fiber foods such as raw fruits and vegetables.
- Increase calcium by eating low-fat dairy products, eating green leafy vegetables, or taking calcium supplements (if directed by your doctor).
- Eat less salt, processed food, and snacks.
- Drink plenty of water (unless you are told to limit fluids).
- Eat high-protein foods such as lean meat, chicken (without the skin), fish, eggs, unsalted nuts, and beans.
- Instead of frying your food, try baking, broiling, grilling, boiling, or steaming.
After an organ transplant, most patients are advised to start their exercise program with a low-impact activity such as walking. You can then gradually increase your workout intensity with aerobic activities such as:
Resistance exercise with weights can increase strength and help prevent bone loss. Stretching exercises can increase muscle tone and flexibility.
The type and amount of exercise you can do after an organ transplant will depend on your age and overall physical condition. So it's important to follow the recommendations of your transplant team.
Transplant patients face a wide range of health concerns after the transplant. It's not uncommon for these health challenges to lead to stress. Getting proper rest and exercise can help.