People hit by Covid must keep kidney health in check: Experts

The full impact of COVID-19 on the kidneys isn't yet clear yet. Image courtesy: IANS

New Delhi: As the second Covid wave leaves India devastated amid the third wave warning, those who were severely hit by the deadly respiratory disease must also keep the health of their kidneys in check, top health experts advised on Friday.

The latest AIIMS study has confirmed that apart from the lungs and liver, kidneys were the most affected in patients with severe Covid-19.

According to Dr Amit K Devra, Senior Kidney Transplant Surgeon at Jaypee Hospital in Noida, the low oxygen level in blood because of pneumonia can produce ATN (damage to tubule) in the kidney.

"In severe cases, because of cytokines storm, there is severe immune reaction leading to intense inflammation of multiple organs including kidney, causing damage to the healthy kidney," Devra told IANS.

The full impact of COVID-19 on the kidneys isn't yet clear yet.

However, C John Sperati, an expert in kidney health from Johns Hopkins Medicine, has revealed how the new coronavirus might affect kidney function as the illness develops and afterward as a person recovers.

The virus itself infects the cells of the kidney. Kidney cells have receptors that enable the new coronavirus to attach to them, invade, and make copies of itself, potentially damaging those tissues.

"Similar receptors are found on cells of the lungs and heart, where the new coronavirus has been shown to cause injury," Sperati, also Director, Nephrology Fellowship Training Programme, said in a latest update published on Johns Hopkins website.

Another possibility is that kidney problems in patients with the coronavirus are due to abnormally low levels of oxygen in the blood, a result of the pneumonia commonly seen in severe cases of the disease, he added.

The kidneys are like filters that screen out toxins, extra water and waste products from the body.

"COVID-19 can cause tiny clots to form in the bloodstream, which can clog the smallest blood vessels in the kidney and impair its function," according to Sperati.

Some people suffering with severe cases of COVID-19 are showing signs of kidney damage, even those who had no underlying kidney problems before they were infected with the coronavirus.

Early reports say that up to 30 per cent of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 in China and New York developed moderate or severe kidney injury.

According to Dr. Anuja Porwal, Additional Director, Nephrology, at Fortis Hospital, majority of the times, the damage is reversible and sometimes, it is partially reversible and sometimes, it is not reversible.

"If a person has underlying co-morbidities like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, kidney stones etc, he/she is more susceptible to having kidney issues.

Additionally, sometimes, the drugs given for treatment of Covid can have an impact on the kidney as well," Porwal told IANS.

If a patient has had kidney involvement during Covid infection, he/she should definitely get their kidney function test and follow up with a nephrologist regularly at least upto three months, the experts advised.

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