Heat and humidity, tips to protect the kidneys

Heat and humidity, tips to protect the kidneys

With the greater loss of fluids and salts, prolonged exposure to heat puts kidney health at greater risk

They are two fundamental organs. But we often underestimate the warning signals they send, especially if they don't work at their best. So, especially this season, let's remember to think about the kidneys.

Heat, air pollution and, although the data are encouraging, the presence of the sars-CoV-2 virus are elements to keep in mind because they can affect kidney activity. Particular attention should be paid to certain categories of subjects with a higher risk of developing kidney disease (such as overweight, hypertensive, diabetic).

With summer just around the corner, the Italian Society of Nephrology (SIN) takes stock of the best practices to be adopted to cope with the summer heat, useful both for those at risk and for patients already suffering from kidney disease, fragile par excellence.

Why attention is needed

The arrival of summer represents a challenge for those with reduced kidney function: the heat and the general increase in temperatures, in fact, expose the kidney system to intense effort due to the loss of fluids and salts on the one hand, with a consequent reduction in the volume of intra-body fluids and possible reduction in blood pressure, factors that affect the amount of blood that reaches our kidneys.

"For these reasons – explains Piergiorgio Messa, President of SIN and Director of the Complex Operating Unit of Nephrology, Dialysis and Renal Transplant – Polyclinic of Milan and Full Professor of Nephrology at the University of Milan – it is possible that a worsening of renal function is observed if it is not possible to adequately compensate for this loss of fluids and salts.

All this is aggravated by recent climatic changes, characterized by strong and very rapid temperature changes, capable of putting a strain on the circulatory, neuro-vegetative system and, consequently, on the renal function. This is why climate change is configured as an additional risk factor for the health of the kidneys, fundamental organs in the management of our body's fluids. More exposed, in relation to changes in the climate, are patients with reduced kidney function due to a pre-existing disease or those with a single kidney ".

In short: it takes attention. There is more and more evidence that suggests that climate change and prolonged exposure to heat represent risk factors for the development of chronic kidney disease, so much so that experts speculate that a form of nephropathy caused by heat stress can be identified.

The combined effect of rising temperatures and water shortages is in fact creating a new era of climate-health crisis, in which known diseases are exacerbated and new diseases appear. People who work for prolonged periods in particularly hot and humid environments are particularly at risk.

Expert advice

Some advice that is valid for everyone also comes from the SIN specialists, but particularly important if the kidneys are not working at their best. According to recent studies by the Italian Society of Nephrology, chronic kidney disease affects about 7-10% of the population and is, unfortunately, in continuous progression also due to the general aging of the population.

In Italy, patients at the third stage or at a more severe stage are almost 4.5 million and subjects on dialysis about 50,000; just as many are the patients with kidney transplants under monitoring. Here, then, is how to behave to "compensate" for the problems of the season:

  • Re-hydrate (at least 1.5 liters of water per day, to be increased in case of profuse sweating or exposure to hot and very windy climates)
  • Reintegrate, albeit moderately, the amount of salt that is physiologically lost in the event of profuse sweating, unless the pressure is high
  • Do not expose yourself to the sun during the hottest hours
  • Apply important skin protection
  • Systematically check blood pressure values
  • Read also

    • Anemia, what to do when it arises from the kidneys
    • Why protect the heart and kidney in those with kidney failure
    • Covid-19, the precautions for those suffering from kidney failure
    • Balanced nutrition in the prevention of chronic kidney disease
    • Covid-19, why vaccinate those with severe kidney problems or are on dialysis early
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