After your kidney transplant operation, you will start taking anti-rejection medication to keep your body from attacking the transplanted kidney. This medication is essential for a successful transplant, but it will decrease your ability to fight infections.
Keep Infections Away
There are many ways you can take a proactive approach to your health.
- Frequently wash your hands. This may seem obvious, but the benefits cannot be overstated. Washing with soap removes germs from hands that can be transferred to objects like handrails or doorknobs and enter our bodies through the eyes, nose, or mouth. For more on the science behind handwashing, check out these statistics from the CDC.
- Practice good hygiene. Make sure you don’t share items like makeup, toothbrushes, eating utensils, or glasses. Wash germs from your body on a regular basis. And, if you are sick, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue.
- Avoid contact with those who are contagious. Common contagions include the common cold, flu, strep throat, and pink eye, among others.
- Always use safe food handling practices. This includes cleaning hands and food preparation surfaces often, avoiding cross-contamination, cooking food to a safe temperature using a food thermometer, and promptly refrigerating any leftovers. For more detailed information on food safety, see these tips from the USDA.
Vaccination After Kidney Transplant
After your transplant, you will typically be advised to avoid getting a flu shot until three to six months after the operation. You will also need to avoid live vaccines and those who have recently received them. Live vaccines use a weakened form of the virus to build immunity. Before receiving a vaccine, check with your transplant care team to ensure it is safe.
You may decide to travel outside the country in the months or years after transplant. International travel occasionally requires vaccination to prevent infections local to that area. Your care team will advise you on how to stay healthy abroad and determine which vaccines are safe for you.
If you do contract an infection after transplant, let your transplant team know as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can get you back to feeling better quicker. It’s important to tell your doctor about injuries, sores, wounds, urinary tract infection, and respiratory infection when you detect them.
Keeping in close contact with your kidney care team can help you stay healthy and avoid complications. Follow the instructions for your prescriptions, stick to your nutritional recommendations, and don’t hesitate to ask questions when you are unsure.