Today I found this article about climate change causing an increase in kidney stones
, which become more frequent as temperatures rise.
That reminded me of a previous article I read about climate change causing chronic kidney failure
. Normally dehydration is an acute problem, easily fixed by rehydration. But the higher the temperature gets, the harder it becomes to stay hydrated. If people work hard in high temperatures, eventually that starts destroying their kidneys. Previously healthy people with none of the usual factors for kidney disease develop kidney failure over a few months, and often die because they can't get treatment.
So there you have it: climate change kills kidneys. Since all humans have kidneys and need them to survive, that poses a threat to everyone. It will hit the hardest workers first, and it is already an epidemic in the hottest parts of world, which will spread poleward as the climate cooks off.
Things you can do:
* Avoid high temperatures, and especially, working hard when it is very hot. If you must work outside, consider the siesta pattern: work in the morning and evening when it is cooler, resting during the hot midday.
* Drink until you slosh, and if you sweat a lot, choose a beverage that replenishes electrolytes too. Avoid dehydrating drinks such as alcohol or soda.
* If you have to work in the heat, especially if you can't keep up with water loss, keep a close eye on your kidney health. Ideally, tell your health provider about your concerns and figure out a tracking plan. Catching this stuff early can mean the difference between life and death.
* Know the symptoms for kidney stones
and kidney disease
. Also learn about heat stress
* Most crucially, remember that heat stress and dehydration are typically acute problems that are quickly fixable with lots of water and cooling off. If that does not work,
then you have an emergency which requires expert care. Then you have to avoid that situation again, or it's quite likely to kill you just like it's killing people around the equator.