Is COVID-19 Still a Risk? For Kidney Patients, the Answer is Yes.


As the world is coming back to a place of normality, kidney patients are still wondering about the impact of COVID-19 on their health. Do they still need to avoid others to avoid the virus, or is it time to go back to normal? These are heavy questions, and they are important ones to answer as kidney patients try to protect their health in this unique time. Is COVID still a risk for kidney patients? Yes, but there are tools and strategies you can use to navigate that risk well.


Antibody Levels May Help You
The CDC currently does not recommend routine testing of COVID-19 antibodies. The data does not seem to indicate that antibodies mean you won’t catch the virus again. However, for kidney patients, they may be a clue. People with high antibody levels appear to get milder symptoms if they catch COVID again, so antibody testing could give you some peace of mind as you move forward in this new era.


Don’t Ignore Boosters
Boosters are an important part of protecting your health as a kidney patient. Make sure you talk to your kidney doctor to learn what boosters are recommended to protect your health. These boosters help prepare your body for the newest strains, so your body stays aware and is prepared to fight COVID if you are exposed. People with immune system deficits are recommended to get two boosters after they finish the initial shot regimen.


Should I Panic if I Catch COVID?
No, you should not panic if you catch COVID. In fact, the latest strains of COVID are so prevalent, it is nearly impossible to go through daily life without catching it. However, you do need to take the right precautions to ensure that you do not get severely sick. Using the vaccines will help. Yes, you will feel unwell, but you are less likely to get severely ill if you are vaccinated, even as a kidney patient.


That said, if you do get COVID, contact your primary doctor or your kidney care team right away. This will ensure you get the right medical care at the start of the illness, so it does not become severe. If you are on dialysis, make sure you notify the unit to ensure you can continue with your life-saving treatment without spreading COVID to other at-risk patients or the staff caring for them.


Finally, take time to rest so you can heal. Do not push yourself through COVID, as that may increase your risk of complications. Stay hydrated, and try to eat healthy food if your appetite allows. Move your body as much as you can, and keep in contact with your medical team. These will all help you get through it with fewer complications.


Take Reasonable Precautions
We are past the point when kidney patients need to completely isolate themselves, but you should take reasonable precautions. If someone in your home or that you spend a lot of time with tests positive, then distance as much as possible. Stay in different rooms of the home, or spend time socializing outdoors, where the risk of transmission is much lower, instead of spending time inside. Continue living your life, but be careful when you need to. However, don’t panic. If you catch COVID, you most likely will get through it, and you have a medical team ready to help.


What’s the Bottom Line?
The bottom line about COVID in 2022 for kidney patients is this: you are still at higher risk for complications from the virus, but this risk is similar to the risk of all other viral infections, including things like the flu. You need to take measures to protect yourself, yes, and stay updated on your vaccinations, but you do not need to live in fear. When you do catch COVID, keep your medical team aware of the situation, take care of yourself while you recover, and most likely you will weather the virus with few complications. No one can predict how any particular patient will respond to COVID, but the current treatments provide greater hope than at the start of the pandemic. Enjoy your life and family with less fear even as you navigate the world of COVID with the challenges of kidney disease.