About 10 percent of the population experiences kidney stones at least once in their lives. That’s up significantly since the late ‘70s when only about 4 percent of the population did so. Some scientists see a correlation between kidney stones and climate change because one important risk factor is that kidney stones are more prevalent in the hot days of summer. One study that looked at over 60,000 patients found that the maximum risk for kidney stone presentation were within three days of a high daily temperature (above 86 degrees) and was likely the result of hydration levels. Patients who are already at risk aggravate their risk factors by becoming dehydrated although it’s not clear if the dehydration just pushes up the date of getting a stone.
Kidney stones are painful growths caused by a build-up of uric acid in the body. Kidney stone sufferers are predominantly Caucasian men (80 percent) and usually begin to experience problems in their 40s. For men, the prevalence continues into their 70s. Women’s risk factors generally peak in their 50s. There is also a known link between kidney stones and obese or diabetic patients. When patients with known risk factors become dehydrated, calcium and uric acid become more supersaturated and calcium stones begin to form.
Kidney stones may trigger urinary tract infections or even kidney failure in extreme cases. To reduce your risk of developing kidney stones during hot weather, stay hydrated and seek immediate medical attention if you experience:
•Pain so severe that you can’t sit still or find a comfortable position
•Pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting
•Pain accompanied by fever and chills
•Blood in your urine
•Difficulty passing urine
Remember that your health is your greatest asset. Protecting your health protects you against uncovered medical costs, Long-Term Care costs and from the threat of being unable to remain in your own home as you age.