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5 Tips to Healthier Living Following an Organ Transplant
A New Chapter
Most patients quickly notice improvement after transplant. It’s uplifting to recognize that you feel better and enjoy an improved quality of life.
But what does it take to make sure your health keeps moving in the right direction? Are you covering all the bases? Do you pay attention to the right things that support good health? Working with your doctor on the next five areas of self-care is key to a healthier life following a transplant.
1. How Can Diet and Exercise Support the Health of Your New Organ?
A good diet can set the stage for your success and continued good health. Dietary needs may change after an organ transplant. For example, high cholesterol can occur with long-term use of anti-rejection medications. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and cholesterol-lowering medications can help.
Working with a Registered Dietitian is a good choice in setting a nutritional care plan that keeps you moving toward a healthy recovery.
Regular exercise following an organ transplant can boost energy and increase your strength. It can lower or maintain weight, reduce stress and prevent post-transplant complications like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Low-impact aerobics, walking, swimming, biking and weight-training are examples of exercise that can improve your health.
2. Learn How to Manage Your Transplant Meds
Following your transplant you will take immunosuppressant (anti-rejection) drugs. These medications are taken for a lifetime and they prevent your immune system from attacking the donor organ. During the first year after transplant, your medications could change often. You may also need to take medications for other health conditions.
The following tips can help you manage your medications:
- Take your medication exactly as your doctor prescribes.
- Understand your medications and learn their side effects and interactions.
- Use a pillbox organizer and keep a daily medication schedule.
Establish a strong connection with your transplant pharmacist. Skipping doses or stopping anti-rejection medications all together is not an option. If you struggle with your transplant medication speak up and ask questions.
3. Good Habits Prevent Infection and Prevent Rejection
More lives are being saved today through organ transplant and longevity is increasing. Still, potential infection and safety risks will always be present.
Careful thought and detailed planning can help you prevent infection and avoid safety risks. Carry a list of emergency contacts and phone numbers and think through strategies for safe living. A few simple safety tips include:
- Always use good hand-washing techniques.
- Pay attention to food safety guidelines.
- Travel safe and take enough medication for the time you will be gone.
4. Keep a Journal and a Dedicated Calendar After Transplant
Recovery following an organ transplant is a lifelong process. A daily log helps you stay organized. It’s a good idea to track measurable progress, record feelings and concerns, and write down questions to ask your doctor.
A calendar will help you stay organized and up-to-date with certain aspects of your care.
For example, use a dedicated calendar to:
- Keep track of your lab visits and blood tests.
- Record doctor appointments, routine screenings, and examinations.
- Check your cholesterol and blood pressure readings
5. Build Your Support System
Your feelings and emotions may change after transplant. No matter what the issue, address your concerns and communicate openly. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Bringing questions forward builds strength and confidence as you begin this new chapter in your life. Consider these key resources to get started:
- Pharmacists will help with your medications and any changes or side effects.
- A Registered Dietitian will help you address dietary and nutritional struggles.
- A professional therapist or counselor can assist with your emotional concerns.
Transplant support groups are also helpful. Support is found throughout the country with local chapters in some areas. Groups focus on education, emotional support and encouragement. There are also support groups for caregivers.
Want to Know More about our Transplant Care and Services?
Knowing you have the support of a dedicated team of people at your transplant center is a lifeline.
We want you to think of us as an additional lifeline ready to support you. Twenty-three years ago we began working with organ transplant recipients all over the country. Today we provide exceptional transplant services nationwide.
Amber Specialty Pharmacy is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. We serve patients in all 50 states through our 21 pharmacy locations. To learn more about our transplant program click here.