Patients with kidney transplant need to take immunosuppressive or anti-rejection drugs to prevent the new kidney from being rejected by their body. These medications suppress the body’s immune system and prevents it from identifying the new kidney as foreign. But because the body never forgets that the new kidney is foreign, the patient has to take these medicines throughout life. Therefore, to prevent kidney rejection and maintain its normal functioning the patient should take these medications as per the instructions of the doctor.
The commonly used immunosuppressant medications include:
- Cyclosporin A
- Mycophenolate Mofetil
- Antithymocyte Globulin
Side effects of Immunosuppressive therapy
Like any other medication, immunosuppressive drugs used to prevent rejection of kidneys may cause some undesirable effects such as:
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Loss of appetite
- Burning sensation in hands and feet
- Unwanted hair growth
- Overgrowth of gum
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Swelling of feet
- Black-coloured stools
- Rise in blood sugar
Consult your doctor on observing any of these side effects. It is important to remember that most of these side effects improve once the dose of immunosuppressant medications is reduced.
Because the immunosuppressants suppress the immunity, the body is no longer able to fight off infections. As a result patients with kidney transplant are more prone to infections (especially viral and fungal), cancer and other complications for which they will need to take some other medications.
I. Medicines for treating infections
- Anti-viral Drugs
Ganciclovir and Acyclovir are used to treat Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Herpes simplex virus infection respectively.
- Anti-fungal Drugs
Fungal infection of lungs, skin or nails is quite common in renal transplant patients and for that your doctor may advise anti-fungal creams and/or tablets.
Lung infectiondue to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Nocardia or Pneumocystis carnii may require treatment with antibiotics.
II. Anti-ulcer medicines: Patients especially on corticosteroid therapy (Prednisolone) are prone to develop peptic ulcers. Therefore they will need to take some antacids such as Famotidine, Omeprazole, Zantac etc. to prevent and treat ulcers.
III. Anti-hypertensive medicines will be given to control blood pressure. The management of high blood pressure in kidney transplant patient is similar to that given in the general population.
IV. Diuretics may be given to remove the extra fluid in the body.