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Does Covid-19 Lead To Kidney Problems? Here's What You Need To Know

Does Covid-19 Lead To Kidney Problems?

Researchers have found that Covid-19 is not a primary cause of acute kidney injury in people who have contracted the disease. Read on to know more.

Written by Arushi Bidhuri |Updated : June 14, 2021 1:07 PM IST

Covid-19, the disease that entered our lives unannounced in December 2019, does not stop after the virus that causes it enters the body. While most people who contract the disease recover within a few weeks, but some experience symptoms that may last a lifetime. Since it is a new disease, scientists continue to study it to understand its effects on different organs of the body. It is believed that Covid-19 can cause people to develop lung, heart or brain problems, and those aren't the only organs at risk.

Reports have suggested that many people who have suffered from Covid-19 have developed kidney problems as well. However, it is unclear if there is a direct link between the health disease and the onset of kidney damage. To understand the link, a study published in the Journal of American Society of Nephrology studied the effects of the coronavirus on the kidneys. Read on to all about it.

Covid-19 Not A Primary Cause For Acute Kidney Injury

To understand the effects of coronavirus on the human kidneys, a team led by Benjamin Dekel, MD, PhD (Sheba Medical Center, Israel) cultured human kidney cells on lab plates and infected them with the coronavirus.

As per the study results, although the virus that causes Covid-19 could enter, infect, and proliferate in human adult kidney cells, the researchers discovered that this did not always result in cell death. The cells had high quantities of interferon signalling molecules before infection, and the infection triggered an inflammatory response that boosted these molecules. Infection of kidney cells lacking in such molecules, on the other hand, resulted in cell death, indicating a protective function.

The cells were grown as a three-dimensional spheroid that mimicked a healthy kidney or as a two-dimensional layer that mimicked the cells of an acutely wounded kidney in these tests. Cells that resembled an acutely wounded kidney were more susceptible to infection and further harm, but not death.

Lead author Dr Dekel said, "The data indicate that it is unlikely that the virus is a primary cause of acute kidney injury seen in Covid-19 patients. It implies that if such injury takes place in the kidney by any cause, the virus might jump on the wagon to intensify it. Therefore, if we are able to limit the common scenario of acute kidney injury in the first place, then there might be the possibility to minimize the potential damage caused by the virus."

What Is Acute Kidney Injury?

When your kidneys are suddenly unable to filter waste items from your blood, you have acute renal failure. When your kidneys lose their filtering abilities, harmful quantities of waste can build up, and the chemical makeup of your blood can become unbalanced. It can develop within a few days and can be fatal. It is more common in people who are already hospitalized, especially those who need intensive care. Symptoms of the disease include:

  • Reduced urine output
  • Fluid retention, which may cause swelling in legs, ankles or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures or coma (in severe cases)

Acute renal failure can sometimes go unnoticed and only be identified through lab testing performed for another reason.

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