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Kidney problems – another hidden effect of COVID


Since the beginning of the pandemic, doctors have found that people who become very ill with COVID-19 often experience kidney problems, not just the lung impairments that are the hallmark of the illness.

Now, a large study suggests that kidney issues can last for months after patients recover from the initial infection, and may lead to a serious lifelong reduction of kidney function in some patients.

The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, found that the sicker Covid patients were initially, the more likely they were to experience lingering kidney damage. But even people with less severe initial infections could be vulnerable.

“You see really, across the board, a higher risk of a bunch of important kidney-associated events,” said Dr. F. Perry Wilson, a nephrologist and associate professor of medicine at Yale, who was not involved in the study. “And what was particularly striking to me was that these persisted.”

Kidneys play a vital role in the body, clearing toxins and excess fluid from the blood, helping maintain a healthy blood pressure, and keeping a balance of electrolytes and other important substances. When the kidneys are not working properly or efficiently, fluids build up, leading to swelling, high blood pressure, weakened bones and other problems. The heart, lungs, central nervous system and immune system can become impaired. In end-stage kidney disease, dialysis or an organ transplant may become necessary. The condition can be fatal. Meanwhile, though the three-day Labor Day weekend typically signifies the unofficial end of summer and the last chance for many people to travel, health officials are trying to rein in that ritual this year in the US as the highly contagious Delta variant fuels a rise in hospitalizations.

Unvaccinated people should avoid traveling over the holiday weekend, said Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She identified vaccination and masking as key factors in preventing the spread of the virus.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen that the vast majority of transmission takes place among unvaccinated people in closed, indoor settings,” Dr. Walensky said. However, the Transportation Security Administration reported that the number of travelers passing through its airport checkpoints on Thursday and Friday nearly equaled prepandemic levels. On Thursday, the agency logged 1,896,846 checks, about 90 percent of the 2019 number, and on Friday it reported 2,129,999 checks, about 97 percent of the 2019 level. (NYT)

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Chandana Sesath Jayakody

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