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Is Climate Change Causing Your Kidney Stones?

Is Climate Change Causing Your Kidney Stones?

More people are getting kidney stones, and a new study suggests that rising temperatures may have something to do with it. More than half a million people visit U.S. emergency rooms each year due to kidney stones, and a growing number of them are children.

Using the medical records of 60,000 patients in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia between 2005 and 2011, the research team found a link between hot days and kidney stones.

“We found that as daily temperatures rise, there is a rapid increase in the probability of patients presenting over the next 20 days with kidney stones,” study leader Gregory E. Tasian, M.D., M.Sc., M.S.C.E. said in a press release. The pediatric urologist and epidemiologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is on staff at the Hospital’s Kidney Stone Center and the Hospital’s Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness. The study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

As mean daily temps went above 50° F (10° C), risk of kidney stone presentation rose in all the cities except Los Angeles. The period between the high daily temperatures and kidney stone presentation peaked within three days of exposure to hot days.

The researchers say that the number of hot days in a given year may be a better indicator of kidney stone risk than the mean annual temperature. Atlanta and Los Angeles share the same annual temperature (63° F or 17° C), but Atlanta has far more hot days than Los Angeles, along with almost double the prevalence of kidney stones.

Interestingly, researchers also discovered that very low outdoor temperatures increased the risk of kidney stones in Atlanta, Chicago, and Philadelphia. The authors suggest that as frigid weather keeps people indoors more, higher indoor temperatures, dietary changes, and less physical activity may raise their risk of forming kidney stones.

Of note from the press release:

The study’s broader context is in patterns of global warming. The authors note that other scientists have reported that overall global temperatures between 2000 and 2009 were higher than 82 percent of temperatures over the past 11,300 years. Furthermore, increases in greenhouse gas emissions are projected to raise earth’s average temperatures by 2° to 8° F (1° to 4.5° C) by 2100.

“Kidney stone prevalence has already been on the rise over the last 30 years, and we can expect this trend to continue, both in greater numbers and over a broader geographic area, as daily temperatures increase,” concluded Tasian. “With some experts predicting that extreme temperatures will become the norm in 30 years, children will bear the brunt of climate change.”

What is a kidney stone?

A kidney stone is a solid mass formed from substances found in urine. A stone can stay in your kidney or be released into your urinary tract. You might pass a small stone without ever knowing it, but larger stones generally cause pain. If a stone gets stuck in your urinary tract, it can cause bleeding and severe pain. The hotter it is, the more likely you are to become dehydrated, which can cause kidney stones to form. According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC), other factors that increase your risk of forming kidney stones include:

  • medications or conditions that affect the levels of certain substances in your urine
  • family history of kidney stones
  • recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • digestive problems

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

  • pain in your side or back (below the ribs)
  • pain that spreads to your lower abdomen or groin
  • fluctuation in pain (as the stone moves through your urinary tract)
  • pain when you urinate
  • constant urge to urinate or urinating more than usual
  • urine that looks pink, red, brown or cloudy
  • foul-smelling urine
  • nausea, vomiting
  • fever and chills may indicate infection

When to Call the Doctor

You should contact your doctor if you have abdominal pain. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should seek immediate medical care if you have:

  • severe pain
  • pain with nausea and vomiting
  • pain with fever and chills
  • blood in your urine
  • difficulty passing urine

If you can’t pass a stone on your own, surgery may be needed.

Related Reading
Climate Change is Making Our Food Less Healthy
Climate Change: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare?
Climate Change in 26 Seconds (NASA Video)

Main Post Photo: b-d-s, photographer|iStock collection|Thinkstock
Kidney Stone Graphic: pixologicstudio, photographer|iStock collection|Thinkstock

Read more: Children, Environment, Family, General Health, Health, News & Issues, ,

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Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis and Catch That Look: Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. She is a freelance writer and member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo


+ add your own
4:44AM PDT on Jul 27, 2014

Noted thanks

4:44AM PDT on Jul 27, 2014

Noted thanks

7:52PM PDT on Jul 19, 2014

Anybody for a “global warming” research mission and getting stuck in the ice...?

7:50PM PDT on Jul 19, 2014

Amazing how this site's obsession with the cult of anthropogenic ”global warming" has become increasingly ridiculous in associating what is not even happening, to every ailment and detriment we may face or experience. Care2 has been a great resource to communicate important topics, however associations like what we see dreamed up in this article, are making Care2 look like senseless fools, groping for anything to promote a discredited hoax!! The data they continue repeating through these articles is also becoming increasingly fictitious. The claim cited on temperatures between 2000 and 2009 is blatantly made up factually incorrect drivel, and projections to the year 2100 have no empirical scientific basis whatsoever. It’s almost amusing, if it were not funded by deadly serious oligarchs who are hell-bent to carbon-tax your life away, where these articles only parrot carbon tax propaganda talking points. The statement “…projected to raise earth’s average temperatures by 2 to 8 degrees by 2100…”, is right out of orchestrated TV manufactured diatribes like "Earth 2100". Oh I forgot, one of the predictions of the cult movement’s iconic gangster Al Gore, who is cashing in by hundreds of millions on the racketeering fraud, stated in 2007 the ice caps would be gone by … 2013!! Somewhat an inconvenient reality don't you think, especially when arctic ice has actually increased… anybody for a “global warming” research missi

11:30PM PDT on Jul 18, 2014

I didn't know they were on the rise, thanks

6:24PM PDT on Jul 18, 2014

My friend recently had a kidney stone; she's only 17 and had never had one before. She was in horrible pain and went to the E.R.

12:27PM PDT on Jul 17, 2014

Thank you :)

2:26AM PDT on Jul 17, 2014

Thank you for interesting article.

2:21AM PDT on Jul 17, 2014

thank you for sharing

1:53AM PDT on Jul 17, 2014

thank you for the interesting article

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