Care of liver patients during COVID pandemic

COVID -19 pandemic has been a tough time for the whole humanity, worse for the patients suffering from chronic diseases like kidney and liver disease. Such patients could not assess medical care due to apprehensions for visit to the hospitals. Limited organ donation and transplants has made life tougher for the liver patients, waiting for liver transplant. A few such patients landed in emergency situation, lost their lives. Taking appropriate care of liver patients during such time has become need of the hour.

COVID infection does not directly affect the liver but COVID disease per se can lead to worsening of the severity of liver disease. There are studies to suggest that patients suffering from moderate to severe liver disease have higher risk to life, if they also get COVID disease. Medications required for COVID can have mild side effect on liver functions, making monitoring of liver tests mandatory.

The principles for protection from COVID disease remains essentially same, which include hand hygiene, facemask and social distancing. Patients, suffering from fatty liver and cirrhosis, need to be vigilant to ensure healthy diet, some form of regular exercise following government regulations. In case of restricted movement due to lockdown, Yoga and meditation has helped patients to ensure physical activity and psychological balance. The patients suffering from cirrhosis, need to monitor themselves for worsening of symptoms, like increased abdominal distention, swelling of feet, worsening of jaundice. They also need to be vigilant for their daily body weight and urine output, that can guide them for fluid accumulation in body. Blood in stools or vomit, loss of consciousness and persistent fever are signs warrant immediate medical attention. Post liver transplant patients should ensure access to medical lab for regular investigations, especially for tacrolimus levels, and adequate medicines.

Although, nobody can guarantee protection from COVID, our hospitals are following strict protocols to ensure safety of the Non-COVID patients. Adhering to strict protocol, surgeries like liver transplant, combined liver and kidney transplant were successfully and safely done at our center, even during peak times of COVID pandemic. Such surgeries indirectly showcase robust hospital infrastructure and hard-work of treating team and staff.

Lastly, patients suffering from liver disease and post liver transplant patients can safely get themselves vaccinated. I would suggest liver patients to be vigilant, stay safe from COVID and take appropriate care of your liver.