UAE: Doctors warn of 'silent dehydration' as 40% rise seen in kidney stone cases in summer

Middle-aged people, especially those exposed to the sun during outdoor work, are affected more than others


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Thu 30 May 2024, 6:39 PM

Last updated: Thu 30 May 2024, 10:52 PM

During the summer months there is a notable increase in the number of patients suffering from kidney stones. Medical facilities report a 30-40 per cent increase in cases. This seasonal surge is significant in the Middle East due to heat and insufficient fluid intake.

“Normally during the summer, we see nearly 40 percent more cases of kidney stones,” said Dr Humam Qaraschouli, consultant urologist, Burjeel Royal Hospital, Asharej.

According to doctors, middle-aged people, especially those exposed to the sun during outdoor work, are more affected. “Dehydration is a key risk factor among workers for kidney stones. It reduces urine volume and increases the concentration of stone-forming substances."

"Additionally, even office workers, who often suffer from what we refer to as silent dehydration are at risk. Despite spending their days in air-conditioned environments, these individuals frequently neglect proper hydration, which similarly elevates their risk of developing kidney stones,” said Dr Satyabrata Garanayak, specialist urologist, at Thumbay University Hospital.

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6cm kidney stone

Recently, a 35-year-old worker had been enduring intense pain on his right side for a few weeks. Seeking medical help, he consulted doctors at Thumbay University Hospital and underwent a CT and X-ray scan which revealed a significant kidney stone, known as a staghorn calculus, measuring 6cm.

To address this, he underwent a combined treatment approach involving two surgeries: Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL) and Retrograde Intrarenal Surgery (RIRS). PCNL, a minimally invasive procedure, involved making a small incision in his back to directly access the kidney and remove the stone.

Vulnerable age

Kidney stones typically affect people between the ages of 30 and 50. They are vulnerable due to work-related exposures and lifestyle factors that increase dehydration risk, doctors said.

Experts also highlighted a notable gender difference, with five male patients for every one female patient. “Men are more likely to become dehydrated, particularly in physically demanding jobs, which raises their risk of kidney stones."


The sweltering temperature causes people to sweat more which leads to dehydration, doctors say. “When the body is dehydrated, urine becomes more concentrated, creating an environment where minerals can crystallize and form kidney stones more easily,” said Dr Qaraschouli.

He added that people may not drink enough water to compensate for the fluid loss, further exacerbating the risk of kidney stone formation. “This combination of high temperatures and inadequate hydration significantly contributes to the rise in kidney stone cases during the summer months,” Dr Qaraschouli said.

Avoid certain foods

To reduce the risk of kidney stones, individuals should avoid certain foods high in oxalates, such as spinach, chocolates, black tea, nuts, and certain berries. These foods can combine with calcium in urine to form calcium oxalate stones – the most common kidney stones. “Reducing sodium consumption is crucial as high sodium levels can increase calcium excretion in urine, promoting stone formation. These dietary adjustments can help prevent kidney stones,” said Dr Garanayak.

“One should also limit the consumption of sugary drinks and colas, as these beverages can increase the risk of stone formation due to their high fructose and phosphoric acid content. Instead, individuals should prioritise drinking water and citrus-based beverages, such as lemonade and orange juice, which contain citrate, a natural inhibitor of stone formation,” said Dr Garanayak.

Doctors also said that residents should prioritise staying hydrated by drinking 3 to 4 litres of water daily, evenly distributed throughout the day rather than consuming large amounts at once.

Common symptoms

Dr Garanayak said that a majority of patients present with flank pain, which is felt on one side of the body between the upper abdomen and the back, typically occurring below the ribs and above the pelvis.

“This pain may fluctuate in intensity. Other symptoms include painful urination, pink, red, or brown urine due to blood, and frequent urination. In severe cases, patients may also experience nausea, vomiting, and fever or chills, which could indicate a possible infection.”


There are several treatment options available for kidney and ureteral stones. “Shock wave lithotripsy is commonly used for stones located in the kidneys or upper ureters. Also, endoscopic procedures involve using a laser to fragment and extract the stone directly from the ureter,” said Dr Qaraschouli.

“In cases of larger kidney stones, procedures such as percutaneous nephrolithotomy through the skin or open/laparoscopic surgeries may be required for effective treatment," said Dr Qaraschouli.


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