Life after a kidney transplant

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

After a kidney transplant there are numerous advices to be followed. This includes general advice on a healthy lifestyle and avoidance of triggers that may damage the kidneys.

Advice after discharge includes taking medications as directed, quitting smoking and so forth.

Taking medications as directed

Patients who have received a kidney transplant need to take medications regularly to keep their immunity suppressed. This needs to be continued lifelong for almost all patients. Patients are advised not to stop these medications on their own or modify their doses or regimen without consulting their physician.

Quit smoking

All patients who are smokers are asked to quit as soon as possible. It is seen that people who continued to smoke after a kidney transplant are twice as likely to have a kidney failure as those who are non smokers.

Avoidance of alcohol and drugs

Drinking excessive alcohol can be dangerous for persons who have had a kidney transplant. In addition alcohol is high in calories and leads to weight gain.

The recommended limits of alcohol are 3-4 units a day for men and 2-3 units a day for women. Illegal drugs of abuse should be avoided as these may damage the kidneys, lead to sudden and prolonged rise in blood pressure and interact with the immunosuppressive medications.

Before taking any over-the-counter or herbal medications physicians should be notified as these may interact with the immunosuppressive medications.

Healthy balanced diet

Patients are advised to take plenty of fruit and vegetables of at least five portions a day. A major portion of diet should be starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice, pasta etc. Part of the diet should contain milk and dairy foods, meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein. Fats and sugars should be taken in moderation. Salts should be avoided as much as possible as it raises blood pressure.

Weight loss and exercise

Once the patient has recovered regular physical activity is recommended. Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity physical or aerobic activity every week.

The definition of moderate intensity activity means exercise that increases the heart and breathing rate and may make the person sweat. Examples include jogging, swimming, fast walking, treadmill etc. Those who are overweight or obese need to reduce their weight to achieve a healthy weight.

Avoidance of the infection

Those who take immunosuppressive medications are at risk of infections and are immunocompromised. To prevent infections good personal hygiene should be maintained and persons with contagious infections, such as flu or chicken pox should be avoided. Good personal hygiene includes regular hand washing before eating, after using the toilet etc.

Care should be taken not to cut or graze the skin to avoid infections. Vaccinations against infections are important but some vaccines containing live viruses such as the mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccine cannot be used.

Sex life after kidney transplant

Sexual intercourse should be avoided till the abdominal incision wound is completely healed. This may take 4 to 6 weeks. Women should avoid getting pregnant at least for a year after the surgery.

Reviewed by , BA Hons (Cantab)

Further Reading

Last Updated: Mar 19, 2014

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Comments
  1. sherrikidney hurtin sherrikidney hurtin United States says:

    Nobody says anything about weight gain!!! I just received my gift of life from my kid  is gas & fluids from the surgery. I'm so swollen around the trunk & thighs it's unbelievably painful. All any of the medical people say is that it is gas & fluids from the surgery. Really? Almost 60 lbs 8 days later? And I've been moving about as told to. The trunk is so thick & sore I can barely bend to sit or lay down.  IS THIS NORMAL??? HELP>

    • Lorry Schlick Lorry Schlick United States says:

      No, this is NOT normal unless you have an infection or in rejection. I know u posted this last Oct, but I gained 35 pounds 11 yrs post-transplant in my trunk and thighs. Been in hosp four times. They say nothing is wrong they can find. Said I have "lymphedema" which is a symptom not a diagnosis. What is causing the swelling? No one can tell me and I am suffering terribly like you. I am house and bed-bound now because of it. My kidney transplant is fine so this has the doctors and ME VERY FRUSTRATED. This has been my life for the last five months with no solution in sight. All I worry about is the long term effects of all this fluid on my transplant, heart, and lungs.
      PLEASE, have you gotten an answer? I hope so for your sake and also mine. I hope you are healthy now and happy. I can tell you anything about the transplant experience in General, but your issue is my constant issue too. Let me know, ok, Sherri, as I would like to know how you're doing.
      Lorry...11 yr renal transplant recipient from my husband. <3

  2. faiyaz ali faiyaz ali Qatar says:

    Can any one tell me that after kidney transplant if kidney last for 10 years and then it failed . can the patient have one more kidney transplant? and if yes how many times?

  3. Glafy Aime Glafy Aime India says:

    If a person has underwent kidney transplantation, is it necessary that he will get kidney trouble again? is it necessary that he should not get married?

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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