Your immune system is made up of mostly white blood cells that fight infection. It can also work against your new heart, treating it as an unwanted, foreign object. To prevent this from occurring, you take immunosuppressant medications - to suppress or work against your natural immune system so that rejection does not occur.
However, the same medications that help prevent rejection also increase your risk for infection. For the first 6 months after surgery, the likelihood for rejection is highest, so you will be taking higher doses of these medications. This makes you even more vulnerable to infection. You must take caution to protect yourself from infection.
Remember these points to protect yourself from infection:
- Take medications as prescribed to prevent or control infections.
- Take care of cuts or wounds. (see Skin Care)
- Practice good dental hygiene. (see Dental Care)
- Take good care of your skin. (see Skin Care)
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often.(see Skin Care)
- Take action to prevent infection by avoiding people who have colds or the flu. (see Visitors after Transplant)
- Keep your immunizations current. (see Immunizations)
- Know the symptoms of infection and when to call the doctor. (see Infection - When to Call the Doctor)
- Be sure your environment is as safe as possible. (see Your Environment)
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and follow safe food preparation guidelines. (see Nutrition Guidelines)