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The University of Southampton

Surgeon warns heatwave could cause kidney stone cases to 'rocket'

Published: 23 June 2017
The current heatwave could cause hospital admissions for kidney stones to “rocket”

Leading University of Southampton surgeon has warned the current heatwave could cause hospital admissions for kidney stones to “rocket” over the next month.

Bhaskar Somani, associate professor of urology at the University, and a consultant urological surgeon at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said “habitual non-drinkers of water” were at particular risk.

He spoke out following his team's study of more than two million patients worldwide, which found a strong association between warm weather and kidney stone disease.

The research, which included data from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, New Zealand and America, showed there were more admissions in July – when the temperature was hottest at 25C or above – than any other month of the year.

“This is the largest study of kidney stone data and it shows a definite and strong link between warm weather and kidney stones, with most admissions occurring during July,” said Mr Somani, a senior author on the paper, which was published in the Journal of Endourology.

“Although a combination of obesity, poor hydration, high blood pressure and a lack of exercise is responsible for stone development, the current hot weather ahead of July could cause cases in England to rocket next month.”

Last year, in research published in the journal Urologia Internationalis, Mr Somani and his team reported the number of hospital admissions for kidney – or renal – stone treatment in England had increased by 20% in seven years, from 77,868 in 2006-07 to 93,039 in 2013-14.

In this latest study, the research team found rising temperatures accounted for up to 84% of the increase in stone presentation.

The condition develops when crystals of salt accumulate into stone-like lumps which are not flushed out of the body.

Although the body tries to pass stones out of the urinary system, they often lodge in the kidney tube and cause severe abdominal and groin pain which, in many cases, can only be corrected through surgery. 

Mr Somani, who is based at Southampton General Hospital and is also an associate professor of urology at the University of Southampton, said the current hot weather, which has seen temperatures across the country reach 30C, could “exacerbate what is already a growing problem”. 

“The heatwave and undoubted dehydration issues it will bring will kick off a vicious cycle that will end in a rise in admissions as a result of kidney stones as the summer progresses,” he said.

“We need fluid hydration to break the cycle and now is a very pertinent time to remind everyone of the importance of taking on two to three litres of water a day to reduce the risk of developing stones.”

Press release courtesy of University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

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