Increased risk in summer: what you need to know about kidney stones
The risk of kidney stone symptoms increases and decreases with temperature. Cases increase especially in summer. A urologist explains the link between heat and the formation of stones in the kidney.
medical doctor Sri Sivalingam is a urologist at the famous Cleveland Clinic in Ohio (USA). In a contribution from the establishment, the doctor explains why the symptoms of kidney stones are more frequent in hot weather.
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are solid structures, often irregular in shape, made up of mineral salts and acids. They can travel from the kidneys to the ureters and lodge there, causing excruciating pain in the lower back and groin.
In summer, when temperatures are high and also in regions close to the equator, cases of kidney stones increase. “We know that excess calcium in the urine can eventually turn into kidney stones,” reports Dr. Sivalingam.
Stone growth often begins in winter
About 80% of kidney stones are made up mostly of calcium. In winter, there is often more calcium in the urine than in summer. An increase in the level of calcium in the urine promotes the formation of kidney stones. However, complaints of stones are increasingly recorded in summer.
“Then, when the warm weather sets in, the higher temperatures and dehydration lead to new growth of stones that formed during the winter months and can suddenly move around,” explains the urologist.
Kidney stones common in the United States
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, nearly one in eight people in the United States see a doctor for a kidney stone at least once a year.
Why Kidney Stones Cause Pain
“Kidney stones cause pain when the ureter, which is only two to three millimeters wide, becomes blocked and contracts to push the stone into the bladder,” Dr. Sivalingam explains the process.
“As the ureteral kidney builds up pressure and tension, there is intense, stabbing discomfort in the lower back and/or groin, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting,” explains the expert.
Kidney stones can vary greatly in size
Depending on the doctor, the size of kidney stones can vary greatly. They can be as small as a grain of salt or as big as a golf ball. Men and women are about equally affected by kidney stones.
Displacement symptoms of kidney stones
Small stones often pass through the urinary tract without medical assistance. The following symptoms may accompany stone removal:
Medical support options
A doctor can recommend whether evacuation should be accompanied by medication. These can directly facilitate the removal of stones or at least the associated pain.
However, if the kidney stone is too large, surgery may be needed. In most cases, this is a minimally invasive operation.
A Kidney Stone Often Doesn’t Come Alone
Dr. Sivalingam will develop another kidney stone within the next five years, with about one in two people having had a kidney stone. Also, the risk of kidney stones generally increases with age.
prevent kidney stones
As the urologist points out, there are several ways to reduce the risk of kidney stones. Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables, for example, helps to make urine less acidic. Because stones mostly form in an acidic environment.
A high salt intake also promotes the formation of kidney stones, since salt increases the calcium content in the urine. In order to reduce the risk, it is therefore necessary to pay attention to a diet low in salt.
People at increased risk for kidney stones should also make sure they drink enough fluids. At least 2.5 liters is recommended by Dr. Sivalingam per day – especially in summer.
“Drinking plenty of water helps dilute the urine and reduce the formation of crystals such as calcium oxalate, the substance that forms most types of kidney stones,” explains the urologist.
Sufficient physical activity also helps protect against kidney stones. In winter, when many people move less, the foundation for the formation of kidney stones is often laid.
Kidney stones can also occur in healthy people
There is 100% protection against kidney stones, according to Dr. Sivalingam no. Although the risk of developing them may be reduced, kidney stones can also occur in perfectly healthy people. Knowledge of the signs and treatment options is therefore useful for all people. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.