The link between hot weather and kidney stones
Having kidney stones is a notoriously painful experience. In fact, over half a million people go to emergency rooms for kidney stones each year, according to the National Kidney Foundation. But you may not know that your risk of developing kidney stones increases during the hot months of summer.
Dr. Naveen Divakaruni, a urologist at Advocate Medical Group in Aurora, Ill., answered some questions regarding kidney stones and prevention.
What are they?
Kidney stones are crystals in the urine which grow over time. When your urine contains high levels of dissolved minerals and salts, you can form stones. The formation of stones often leads to a sharp, cramping pain in the lower abdomen as your body tries to get rid of the stone, according to the American Urological Association.
Why is summer associated with an increased risk?
Summer consists of hotter and drier weather which can lead to increased loss of body fluid through sweating, says Dr. Divakaruni. This results in dehydration which then results in increased concentrations of stone-forming minerals in the urine. An increased concentration of minerals in the urine allows them to attach to each other more easily and cause stone formation.
How can you prevent them?
The key steps to kidney stone prevention include drinking plenty of water and eating a low sodium diet, according to Dr. Divakaruni. He recommends drinking 2.5-3 liters of water daily, which is especially important during outdoor activity in the heat. “Additionally, I would recommend eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and maintaining a healthy weight.” Eating a diet high in animal protein and health conditons such as obesity are both linked to a higher risk of stone formation.
What are some general tips for good kidney health?
Dr. Divakaruni recommends:
- Avoiding excess salt in your diet
- Maintaining healthy blood pressure and blood sugars
- Drinking plenty of water
- Avoiding smoking