After any transplant, patients are required to take many different types of medications to help their new organ function properly, prevent rejection and stay healthy. In addition to immunosuppresant drugs, your transplant team may recommend these other medications:
There is a risk of developing bacterial infections during and after your transplant. That’s why antibiotics are used to harm specific bacteria that cause infection.
An antibiotic is a chemical compound that can kill or inhibit the growth of a bacteria without causing damage to the person taking it. There are hundreds of antibiotics, which are either produced naturally by a mold or bacterium, like penicillin, or synthetically made. Because bacteria are living organisms, they are always changing in an effort to resist the drugs that can kill them. When antibiotics are used incorrectly, bacteria can adapt and become resistant.
Anti-fungal medications are used after a transplant to treat fungal infections of the skin, mouth, throat, intestinal tract or genital area. There are several different types of anti-fungal therapies, including topical, oral or intravenous. It is very important to use these medications exactly as directed, and complete the full course of therapy to minimize the occurrence of recurrent infections.
Anti-ulcer medications are used after transplant to treat and prevent the recurrence of ulcers and to treat other conditions where the stomach makes too much acid. Because type and dose of this medication vary based on individual need, talk with your doctor and pharmacist about what best suits you. It may also be important to discuss how cigarette smoking may decrease the effectiveness of some anti-ulcer medications.
Diuretics, also called water pills, are chemical substances used to reduce swelling and fluid retention by increasing the amount of urine made by the kidneys and helping to rid the body of excess fluids. They do this by forcing the kidneys to excrete urine more frequently, and in greater amounts. Diuretics also control high blood pressure.
Because excess amounts of diuretics can cause electrolyte depletion, it is important to use these medications exactly as directed.
Unlike antibacterial drugs, antivirals are medications used for prevention and treatment of viruses. Since immunosuppressive drugs may make transplant patients susceptible to viral infections, antivirals are often used. Valcyte® tablets, for instance, are an antiviral prescription medication used by patients who have a high chance of developing cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease after receiving a heart, kidney, or kidney-pancreas transplant.
Because immunosuppressive therapy may aggravate existing cardiovascular disease risk factors or promote the development of new ones, transplant patients are often treated with statins. Statins are a relatively new group of drugs used to lower blood cholesterol levels and have known benefits in reducing cardiovascular disease.
Vaccines, usually given as a shot, help to prevent serious diseases, including the common flu, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B and pneumococcal disease. Response to vaccines is decreased in patients with end-state organ disease and in the first six months after transplantation, so it is important to talk to your transplant team about the timing and spacing of recommended vaccines. Transplant patients should not receive “live virus” vaccines or be in contact with people who recently received a live virus vaccine, which may trigger an infection in an immunosuppressed patient.
Reference and Publication Information
United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is committed to providing accurate and reliable information for transplant patients. The content on this page was originally created on August 15, 2003 by UNOS and last modified on August 15, 2016.
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