Climate Change Linked to Epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease

2 min read
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Climate change and the resultant steady spike in mercury can lead to an epidemic of chronic deadly kidney diseases in the coming decades warn doctors, reported the Guardian.

Although increasing research in the field points to a strong link between heat and chronic kidney diseases, more research is required to discern the exact scale of the potential damage of the link.

What is behind the rise in cases of the mysterious Chronic Kidney Disease Unknown?


Heat Induced Kidney Disease

Unlike regular Kidney disease, climate change and heat stress is typically found to cause CKDu (Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown etiology/Uncertain cause).

According to the International Society of Nephrology (ISN), CKDus have been known to develop in people from marginalised agricultural communities around the world, exposed to a high degree of occupational and environmental hazards, and is largely considered a 'medical mystery'.

New research however, points to heat stress being the possible missing link.

Moreover, CKDu has been noted in populations across Central America, North America, South America, the Middle East, Africa and India, who are engaged in heavy manual labour in hot weather.

“If you take a look at the maximum temperature maps in the region in Central America, you will notice that they match the regions where we are describing the disease, the hotspots.”
Dr Ramón García Trabanino, clinical nephrologist and medical director, El Salvador’s Centre of Hemodialysis, quoted by the Guardian

Increasing research on the subject has prompted researchers to push for CKDus recognised as a heat stress related illness.

Unlike regular chronic kidney disease which has a slow progression, CKDus generally don't present symptoms and a person can go for years without knowing they have an illness before their condition rapidly declines, Dr Cecilia Sorensen, director of the global consortium on climate and health education at Columbia University, was quotes as saying by the Guardian.


No Way Out

“They’re getting sick from the work that they’re doing, but they have no other options, and there’s very little regulatory oversight in the work environment that prevents this from happening. It’s a huge blind spot and a human rights issue."
Dr Cecilia Sorensen, director, global consortium on climate and health education, Columbia University, quoted by the Guardian

Essentially, CKDus effect those who work outdoors in the harsh heat over a long period of time, don't have access to medical care, and don't have the luxury to stop working even when the disease catches up to them.

As global warming worsens and the temperature goes up, it's only set to get worse.

Along with exposure to heat, some scientists also link the rise of CKDus to agrochemicals that these field workers are exposed to.

(Written with inputs from the Guardian.)

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