You are likely to have ups and downs during your post transplant period. During this time there are a few things that you can do to help your recovery and healing. Your immune system is not able to fully protect you after a transplant and it may take months to normally function. While some infections are minor, others can be life threatening. Here are few tips that might help you, but always follow advice of your transplant specialist.
Protecting yourself from infection
- Keep your hands clean
Washing your hands is the best way of reducing infection. Wash your hands whenever:
- You return home
- You touch a shared object like phone
- Before you take food and after toilet use.
Please be strict with visitors and insist on using handrub before anyone touches you.
- Other tips
Other important things you can do to reduce infection is to take bath daily, use a separate towel, change bed sheets (at least once a week) and change clothes daily.
- Keeping your mouth clean
Taking good care of mouth and gums may help in reducing infections and mouth ulcers. Some general tips include:
- Clean your teeth at least twice a day with a soft brush and use alcohol free mouthwash as recommended
- Do not floss your teeth and consult your doctor before any dental procedure.
- Stay in a clean environment
- Until your immune system becomes absolutely normal, try to stay away from dust, plants, flowers, and large gatherings. This is because all these things expose you to fungal spores which can cause infections.
- Ask your family or friend to clean your room by mopping, instead of sweeping. Avoid being in the room where cleaning is taking place.
- Breathe clean air- This is a problem, especially in metros. HEPA filters can be used, but are not mandatory. Try to stay away from first hand or second hand smoke. Avoid any new construction in your house and stay away from incense sticks, oil lamps etc.
- Don’t have visitors who have flu, loose motion or vomiting. Avoid contact with anyone who had a live vaccine in last 2-4 weeks.
- Protect yourself when you go out
- When you move out, you need to take some precautions, ask your transplant physician about visiting public places and when to wear a mask.
- Avoid crowds by going to places like malls, movie halls on weekdays when they are less busy.
- Avoid swimming in public pools and oceans and use protective gloves and wipes.
- Be alert for signs of infection
You know your body better than anyone else, so you are the best person to watch for signs of infection. Some symptoms and signs to watch for are-
- Fever or chills
- Frequent urination and blood in stool or urine
- Abdominal pain, severe fatigue
- Coughing, shortness of breath
- Light headedness
- It is very important to watch out for GVHD symptoms like jaundice, loose stools, pain abdomen, loss of appetite, skin rash, fever etc. Please contact your transplant team immediately if you experience any of these.