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Managing Your Health After an Organ Transplant

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Medication Side Effects

After an organ transplant, you may experience short-term medication side effects such as:

  • Hair growth or hair loss
  • Acne
  • Mood swings
  • Round face
  • Enlarged gums
  • Weight gain

These side effects may let up as your initial high dose of medication is tapered down.

You also may experience other side effects such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Elevated blood sugars
  • Infection

If you notice any side effects, don't stop taking the drugs on your own. First, let your doctor know. He or she can adjust your prescriptions to minimize side effects without increasing your risk of organ rejection.

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.

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