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


Nimue P.

Drink water, water, water!!!

Nimue P.

Drink water, water, water!!!

Pego R.
Pego R4 years ago

This is the problem and it is excelerating. Sea ice is nothing but weather;

Magdalena J.
Past Member 4 years ago

Thank you!

Pego R.
Pego R4 years ago

Some of the research that Carter set off bore fruit in the data about the hole in the ozone and hard evidence aboutt he sources of acid rain, which were solidified well after he was oustered and replaced by candidated more fossil fuel subsidized. Reagan took these findings and DID act on them. helping to resolve both issues, but he was hired by oil and so the new solar system was trashed, the new fuel resquirements as well and residential enegy useage. Even the Energy Star on apliences is a somwhat toothless and deceptive moniker, so you, I and all the rest of us have been paying out the wazoo for using up volumes of energy that we did not have to have shelled out for. Reagan declared the problems were all solved when they passsed the laws regarding the ozone and acid rain, everything wwasd solved, the climate issues, he said, were overblown, scientists, he said, were fullashite.

BEfore Reagan's administration, the overwhelming portion of scientists identified as Republican, but Reagan and the Republican Party of the NeoCons committed themselves to a purge of the science community, slander, underfunding and slander over the next 35 years until today in which they can now, honestly, say that almost none of the science community, an intrinsinctly conservative group throughout, are Republican any more. This is not to say that they don't fund science at all, but we have seen an explosion of funding biased work come out of the science tanks and a number of Universities that

Pego R.
Pego R4 years ago

In fact seasonal ice doesn't even really indicate a pause. That is really just another mark of the climate weird we were told to expect a couple decades ago, so to characterize a nice season or two of oceanic ice sheet, melted by summer anyway, as a pause is a gross exageration and, something of a facetious denier statement, a hoax or at least fantasmically wishful thinking if the glaciers and permafrost haven't stopped melting. Those haven't stopped melting in this time period, they have exelerated. You and we all need to be paying attention to those glaciers;

Pego R.
Pego R4 years ago

The happy dace you were fed by the multitude of propaganda outlets and tanks that have since risen is, sadly, very shallowly based on something even a non-scientist should be able to comprehand. If you have a glass of water and place an ice cube in it, when that cube melts, the level will not change. If you place a blokc of ice across the top of the glass, however, when it melts into the glass, the glass will overflow.

The seasonal creation of sheet ice in the Actic and Antarctic are not the biggest deal in this. As weather fluxuated more and more off kilter those sorts of things will range pretty broadly. Some years there will be more, some less and less. The overall trend is still for less and has been so now, for several decades. One season, or even ten seasons is not enough to reverse that, particularly not when it melts every year. What is NOT being replaced are the sheets of land-borne permafrost and glaciation, the things that are a part of the long-term trend and the thing that keeps the oceanic levels where they are supposed to be. Highways across Alaska, Canada, Russia and Mongolia have been crumbling as their permafrost beds have melted and deflated, draining into the waterways and eventually into the oceans;

Pego R.
Pego R4 years ago

What is MOST curious and interesting about that last report is that while the scientists signed off on it unanimously, having worked through the already pretty substantial set of data ONE of these scientists went directly to the NeoCons and their backers, like the oil industry, and opened up a denier tank for them. Neirenberg allong with a small number of other unethical scientists spent a long and VERY lucrative career manufacturing fairly plausable but highly biased denial peices. The whole "Global Cooling" schtick was a product of this man's career, as were a number of other papers generated to support the interests of the Tobbacco, Fossil Fuel and War industries;

If you look into the funders of this denier tank, you will see that every major donor is a family out of the oil and weapons industry

This tank was well equipped with real scientists, even if utterly unethical, and the very rational-sounding pseudo science they generated litters the politicization of climate science as well as the big interest issues they also took on.

Julia R.
Julia R4 years ago

Very interesting article! Another negative consequence of global warming. I hope that we all begin to see how our weather effects us in a myriad of ways and that the need to get a handle on these rising temperatures is very pressing as our children will bear the brunt of widespread climate change in many areas adversely effecting their lives! We all need to be aware of drinking more water as well to prevent kidney stones which is another reason why we need to take climate change very seriously because the amount of water that we have on our planet will also decrease with global temperatures rising!