COVID-19 has been found to attack the kidneys, not just the lungs and heart, causing acute kidney injury (AKI)—sudden loss of kidney function. While the following practices won’t prevent AKI if you contract ­COVID-19, they may minimize the impact and can help keep your kidneys in tip-top shape, pandemic or not… 

Avoid prolonged use of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Aspirin at an 81-mg (“baby”) dose or a 325-mg regular daily dose is generally safe for your kidneys. Use no longer than 10 days for pain…no longer than three days for fever. Try acetaminophen for acute pain or fever instead—also for limited amounts of time. For painful chronic conditions such as arthritis, seek physical therapy, yoga and other nonmedication treatments. 

Treat preexisting diabetes, high blood pressure and/or cardiovascular disease, which all increase risk for kidney disease and severe COVID-19. 

Limit daily sodium intake to 2,000 milligrams (mg) to 2,300 mg. If you have high blood pressure or kidney ­disease, excess ­sodium can increase blood pressure and blunt the effects of certain blood pressure medications. Chronic high blood pressure damages arteries to the kidneys, which over time reduces kidney function. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dietary guidelines for the upper daily limit for sodium is 2,300 mg…the kidney disease clinical practice guidelines for the upper daily limit for sodium is 2,000 mg.  

Good rule of thumb: A food is high-sodium if the number in milligrams listed for sodium on the food label nutrition panel is higher than the number listed for calories.

Kidney injury can be treated, but some cases may require intense treatment with dialysis.