According to a story from EurekAlert!, farm workers from across the world are experiencing increased rates of chronic kidney disease. The precise reason for the increased rates are unknown, but potential risk factors include exposure to noxious pesticides and heavy metals. However, there is another looming menace that is playing a role: climate change.
About Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Chronic kidney disease is an illness in which the functionality of the kidneys is affected over time. This progressive disease can occur over a period of months or years and often results in eventual kidney failure. This disease often causes no symptoms at first. There are a number of risk factors for chronic kidney disease, such as diabetes, glomerulonephritis, family history, and high blood pressure. The cause is not known in all cases. As the disease progresses, symptoms such as leg swelling, confusion, fatigue, vomiting, loss of appetite, heart disease, bone disease, anemia, and high blood pressure may appear. Treatment may include dietary changes, certain medications, and, in later stages, dialysis or kidney transplant. The most common cause of death for people with chronic kidney disease is cardiovascular disease, which may appear before the kidneys completely shut down. To learn more about chronic kidney disease, click here.
Warning: Huge Challenges Ahead
The hottest regions of the world appear to be seeing the greatest rises in chronic kidney disease cases; dehydration and severe heat exposure are more factors that appear to increase risk. For the next decades there are no indications that these places will stop getting any hotter. To put into perspective just how severe this is, chronic kidney disease is now the second leading cause of death in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
As climate change continues, it is safe to say that chronic kidney disease will continue to become more of a problem. Other diseases like Lyme disease will be increasing too, plus there’s even a chance of some never before seen ones popping out of the melting permafrost.
Our health systems may be unprepared for what is coming. The latest environmental science is going to have to become a part of public health and clinical practice so that preparations can be made to protect vulnerable populations and identify threats that could be exacerbated by the changes we have wrought on our planet. We don’t have much time, but we better use the time we still have to prepare.