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Study: Marathon Runners May Experience Temporary Kidney Injury

Dorathy Gass

There’s nothing like training for a marathon. Runners can set a goal and have a feeling of great accomplishment. In addition, long-distance running can help decrease risks of obesity, cancer, and diabetes; as well as enhance one’s longevity and mood.

Still, completing a marathon does have its risks. Running 26.2 miles (in a row) may add stress to an individual’s body, which opens one up to injury, including temporary weakened immunity. A new study has also revealed that marathon runners may be exposing themselves to an increased risk of temporary kidney injury.

As per the study, CNN reported that it seems that long-distance runners can develop acute kidney injury while partaking in a marathon, however, within two days flat, the kidneys are able to repair themselves.

Lead author of the study Dr. Chirag Parikh, hailing from Yale University School of Medicine states that there is a possibility that marathon runners can cause serious stress and add onto an existing chronic kidney illness. He adds that this is where runners who suffer with this illness need to talk to trainers and their doctors. He also notes that with sufficient training, a person’s kidneys can grow accustom to this stress.

The popularity of marathon running has gained momentum. As per Running USA, from 1990 to 2014, the number of marathon finishers have increased tremendously from approximately 224,000 to over 550, 000. In 2016, over 507,000 marathon runners hit their respective finish lines in America, as per Scott Bush, spokesperson for Running USA. It’s important to note that Mr. Bush/Running USA did not participate in the study below.

The research team used individuals who were a part of Connecticut’s Hartford Marathon in 2015. A day prior to the big race, runners provided blood and urine samples for analysis. The team reviewed them for markers used to diagnose severe kidney injury, including shifts or changes in levels of creatinine. About 30 minutes after the race was complete, blood and urine samples were provided by the participants and reviewed for kidney injury.

The results revealed that levels of creatinine were higher than normal within the samples from almost most of the participants, right after the race. In fact, 82 percent of the runners revealed symptoms of the minimum stage one acute kidney condition.

Still, about one day and a half post-race, samples were gathered once again and no signs of acute kidney injury came up.

As Parikh states, the good news was that while signs did show up immediately after the race, within 48 hours, results came back to baseline.

As with any sport of physical activity, it is vital to speak with doctors and potential trainers before diving in. Opening the doorways of communication when it comes to health issues can only help an individual manage any concerns in the pursuit of fitness goals and well-being.

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