How Global Warming Might Be Putting Us at Risk of Kidney Disease

A team of South Australian researchers believes that the increased rate of renal disease might be linked with hotter temperatures.

Spending a hot summer afternoon at the beach is amazing however; we have to consider the possibility that the weather there is doing more than just making you sweat. It has been proven that humans could develop respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses as a result of prolonged consecutive exposure to extremely high temperatures. That said, an Australian team of researchers intend to add another illness to the preexisting ones – kidney, or renal disease.

They tried to ascertain the minimum and maximum average temperature of Adelaide, South Australia in their report, which was published in Environmental Health, and their discovery corresponded with the daily admission rates of people with Kidney problems. About 83,519 cases were counted as emergency department admission while 42,957 was recorded for inpatient admissions to every other metropolitan hospital within the region.

The researchers observed that the renal disease figure were higher during the summer months in their research which covered a period from 2003 to 2014. More so, apart from it being more common in the summer months, it was associated with a certain kind of kidney disease. A daily temperature increase of just 1°C was considerably associated with amplified incidence rates of acute kidney injury, urolithiasis, chronic kidney disease, renal failure and urinary tract infection. It was also observed that the adults groups were not as susceptible as kids, infants or even the elderly, however, there was a higher risk for people who put themselves through intense exercise or major occupational heat exposure.

These scientists suggested that sweating might be the cause of the heat-exposure-related kidney disease. Our bodies aim to cool off by sweating however; it could lead to dehydration and reduction in bodily fluids. This puts pressure on the kidney as they continue to strive to maintain proper fluid balance and blood filtration and this could lead to a severe kidney injury or disease. The quantity of urine produced by the kidney also reduces as a result of the kidney trying to conserve water by reabsorption. This could then result in urinary tract infections because it will not properly flush out bacteria in the urinary tract.

As a result of climate change, the heat waves intensify, become longer and a lot more frequent and this has prompted several researchers to note heat-induced kidney diseases as something that will become more frequent. The researchers have now taken steps to compare data at different time or periods and deduce how the occurrence rate has changed over the last few decades. They also want to ascertain if air pollution could be a contributing factor.

Proper hydration is the common advise given by researchers to people who intend to completely avoid heat-induced kidney diseases, especially during hot weather and they also advised that people should keep away from the sun as much as possible. They are of the opinion that the number of incidences could reduce drastically if people support the ongoing public interventions by improving community awareness on issues pertaining to heat-related kidney.

Borg, M., Bi, P., Nitschke, M., Williams, S. and McDonald, S. (2017). The impact of daily temperature on renal disease incidence: an ecological study. Environmental Health. 16: 114.t