Could higher temperatures be increasing patients' risk of getting kidney stones? At least some experts think so.
Based on data collected from thousands of patients in five major U.S. cities, as average daily temperature rose above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the risk that a patient would have a kidney stone over the following 20 days tended to increase, according to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives last week.
In Philadelphia, when the average temperature was 86 F, the chance a patient would seek treatment for a kidney stone was nearly 50 percent higher than at 50 F.
After heat waves, visits to the doctor for kidney stone treatment peaked three days later. This is a significant finding, according to Gregory Tasian, the study's lead author, because extreme temperature events are projected to increase with climate change.
"Kidney stone prevalence has already been on the rise over the last 30 years," said Tasian, a pediatric urologist and epidemiologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "We can expect this trend to continue, both in greater numbers and over a broader geographic area, as daily temperatures increase," he added.
Tasian and a team of researchers evaluated six years' worth of insurance claims data from more than 60,000 patients who received treatment for kidney stones in hospitals and outpatient clinics in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
The incidence of kidney stone cases has increased by about 70 percent in adults in the past few decades. They cause about half a million emergency room visits each year. Even adolescents, who rarely got kidney stones in the past, have seen greater diagnoses of kidney stones in the past few years, according to national data.
The likelihood of forming kidney stones is linked to dehydration, which concentrates calcium and other minerals in the urine, making it easier for kidney stones to form. Higher temperatures can increase the risk of dehydration (Sandy Bauers, Philadelphia Inquirer, July 10).
Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500.E&E Publishing is the leading source for comprehensive, daily coverage of environmental and energy issues. Click here to start a free trial to E&E's information services.
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