Do summer heat and dehydration increase the risk of kidney stone formation?

A team of doctors in Hyderabad recently removed 206 kidney stones of a patient after performing a one-hour surgery. The attending physician said that “extremely high temperatures during the summer can cause dehydration and lead to the formation of kidney stones or nephrolithiasis in people.”

So, are people more prone to developing kidney stones during the summer months?

Here’s what you need to know

According to several studies, including a 2014 American study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the dehydration generated by the heat wave can cause kidney stones. He also said that kidney stone presentations increased with higher average daily temperatures in the US cities of Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Ill.; Dallas, TX; Los Angeles, California; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with the strongest associations estimated for lags of only a few days.

“This is because many people don’t drink enough water during the summer and become dehydrated, causing the calcium and other minerals in the urine to condense and turn into small stones. Heatwave-induced dehydration tends to speed up the process, as acidic substances in the urine concentrate more to turn into crystals, and ultimately stones,” said Dr. Nasreen Gite, Consultant Urologist, SRV Hospital, Chembur.

Here’s what to consider about kidney health. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Risk factors

As a disorder of mineral metabolism, kidney stones can be recurrent, according to a 2022 study published in Nature. It is well established that high ambient temperatures increase the risk of developing kidney stone disease and presenting with acute and symptomatic calculations. The research notes that as global ambient temperatures increase due to climate change, the prevalence of kidney stone disease and associated acute kidney stone presentations is expected to follow.

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Symptoms

Painful urination, abdominal discomfort and some blood in the urine.

What can be done?

The doctor may prescribe medication to dissolve the rocks. But, if the pain is severe and the stones are larger, surgery may be required. These stones can interfere with daily activities, Dr. Gite said.

Dr Gite recommended staying hydrated by drinking enough water, avoiding travel during peak hours – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. – when there’s extreme heat and humidity, and saying goodbye to sodas and alcohol which can lead to dehydration. “Take utmost care during the heat wave to avoid kidney problems,” she said.

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