It’s the Heat AND the Humidity

Hawaii is so beautiful… and Maui so healing. There was just one thing, though. I somehow managed to forget how humid it is. As you may or may not remember, after we’d come back from the Caribbean and from San Antonio last year, I vowed never to go to a humid climate during the summer again. Well, Maui was Bear’s 71st birthday present so maybe that’s why I so conveniently forgot my vow.

Here’s why I shouldn’t have. This is updated from SlowItDownCKD 2016.

ResearchGate at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263084331_Climate change and Chronic Kidney Disease published a study from the Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research from February of 2014 (That’s over three years ago, friends.) which included the following in the conclusion:

“Our data suggest that burden of renal diseases may increase as period of hot weather becomes more frequent. This is further aggravated if age advanced and people with chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.”

That makes sense, but how will this happen exactly? I included this June, 2010, article in The Book of Blogs: Moderate Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 1. Apparently, heat (and humidity) has been an acknowledged threat to our kidneys for longer than we’d thought.

“.…Dr. HL Trivedi of the Institute of Kidney Diseases and Research Centre (IKDRC) said, ‘…. Rapid water loss causes the kidney’s functioning to slow down, resulting in temporary or permanent kidney failure.’ Extreme heat causes rapid water loss, resulting in acute electrolyte imbalance. The kidney, unable to cope with the water loss, fails to flush out the requisite amount of Creatinine and other toxins from the body. Coupled with a lack of consistent water intake, this brings about permanent or temporary kidney failure, explain experts.”

The article can be viewed directly at http://www.dnaindia.com/health/report_heat-induced-kidney-ailments-see-40pct-rise_1390589 and is from “Daily News & Analysis.”

By the time this book’s twin, The Book of Blogs: Moderate Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 2, was ready for publication, the (then) spokesman for The National Kidney Foundation – Dr. Leslie Spry – had this to say about heat and humidity:

“Heat illness occurs when body temperature exceeds a person’s ability to dissipate that heat and is commonly diagnosed when the body temperature approaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit and when humidity is greater than 70 percent. Once the humidity is that high, sweating becomes less effective at dispersing body heat, and the core body temperature begins to rise.”

The entire article is at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leslie-spry-md-facp/heat-illness_b_1727995.html.

Oh, so humidity affects sweating and body heat rises. Humidity greater than 70%. That covers almost the entire time we were in the Caribbean and Texas (and now Hawaii). Well, what’s the connection between heat illness and CKD then?

The CDC offers the following advice to avoid heat illness:

“People with a chronic medical condition are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. Also, they may be taking medications that can worsen the impact of extreme heat. People in this category need the following information.
• Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
• Check on a friend or neighbor, and have someone do the same for you.
• Check the local news for health and safety updates regularly.
• Don’t use the stove or oven to cook——it will make you and your house hotter.
• Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
• Take cool showers or baths to cool down….”

Uh-oh, we’re already in trouble. Look at the first suggestion: our fluid intake is restricted to 64 oz. (Mine is, check with your nephrologist for yours.) I know I carefully space out my fluids – which include anything that can melt to a liquid – to cover my entire day. I can’t drink more water than usual and, sometimes – on those rare occasions when I’ve been careless – have to wait until I’m thirsty to drink.

Diabetes is the foremost cause of CKD. I was curious how heat affected blood sugar so I popped over to Information about Diabetes at http://www.informationaboutdiabetes.com/lifestyle/lifestyle/how-heat-and-humidity-may-affect-blood-sugar and found this:

1. If our body is low on fluids, the kidneys receive less blood flow and work less effectively. This might cause blood glucose concentrations to rise.
2. If someone’s blood sugar is already running high in the heat, not only will they lose water through sweat but they might urinate more frequently too, depleting their body’s fluids even more.

There’s more at the website if this interests you.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs at https://www.visn9.va.gov/VISN9/news/vhw/summer07/humidity.asp,
“Hot weather can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but the dangers increase when you add humidity to the mix. When the temperature rises above 70F and the humidity registers more than 70 percent, you need to be on the alert.

Who’s most at risk?
People with high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease or kidney disease (I made that bolded.) are most vulnerable to the effects of humid conditions, as are those over age 50. Other risk factors that can affect your body’s ability to cool itself include being obese; having poor circulation; following a salt-restricted diet; drinking alcohol; having inefficient sweat glands; and taking diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers or heart or blood pressure medication.”

So, pretty much, the way to deal with heat and humidity having an effect on your (and my) CKD is to avoid it. That doesn’t mean you have to move, you know. Staying in air conditioning as long as you can so your body is not overheated and can better handle this kind of weather will help. Wearing a hat and cool clothes will also help. I certainly relearned the value of wearing cotton this past week. It’s a fabric that breathes. I’ll bet that this is how those CKD patients who live in humid areas deal with it. Feedback, anyone? Robin? Mark?

Now for some great, unrelated news: One of our daughters gave Bear the best birthday present. She and her husband FaceTimed us in Maui on Bear’s birthday to tell us we’re going to be grandparents. This is a first for them… and for us. To make this even better – as if that were possible – little one is expected on our anniversary. I love the ebb and flow of the universe, don’t you?

Until next week,
Keep living your life!

National Kidney Month is Over, But You Still Need to Be Aware

All this National Kidney Month activity has only served to make me – and hopefully you – just how very aware of our kidneys we need to be.  I found that reminding myself of what they do and how they do it only renewed my passion to get the book into the hands of every newly diagnosed CKD patient and/or their friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, doctors, nurses and nutritionists.

So, I came up with an idea.  You know the book is already available at http://www.myckdexperience.com, www. Amazon.com & www. B&N.com. It’s in digital form on the two bookstore sites.  Now I’m going to make it available here.

I’m a writer, not a business person but I have figured out that I can send you the book directly. All you need to do is send your mailing information to:  myckdexperience@gmail.com and deposit $12.00 in my PayPal account: Peckolick. Yep, you’re right: that is a savings off the usual $12.95 price. Consider it a reward for helping me get the book out there.

I’ve been in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for an entire week. The Renal Symposium only took one day, but why fly through three time zones for just one day? So, I stayed to site see. I’ve been to the aquarium, Ruby Falls, The Lookout Mountain Incline, Rock City, St. Elmo, The Hunter Museum, a Moon Pie factory distributor’s and so many more attractions…. and I’ve discovered that I know quite a bit about traveling with early stage CKD.

I purposely chose a hotel with an exercise room, but haven’t used it once.  This is one of those manageable cities so I’ve walked for miles each day instead.  I’m getting older now, so I only walk two or three miles but with all the site seeing I’m barely aware of  how much I’m walking.

Most hotel rooms have microwaves and small refrigerators these days, as well as coffee machines. The first day I was here, besides setting up my table for the symposium, I walked 1/2 mile each way to stock up on bottled water, fresh fruit and some vegetables that were already cleaned and cut.  My breakfast each day was a cup of my beloved coffee, 15 grapes, half a banana and half a cup of celery.  No rushing to get out for breakfast, no ordering food I wasn’t comfortable eating and no searching for a restaurant.

What thrills me is that I no longer have to work at knowing what I can eat; it’s been long enough that I just know.  Menus don’t confuse me anymore.  If I can’t get a child sized portion or a senior citizen sized portion (They simply don’t exist here. Congratulations, Arizona on being sensitive to your senior citizens in this respect), I can eat as much as I’m permitted to on the renal diet and put the rest in the refrigerator for tomorrow’s dinner.

That’s another thing.  Since the renal diet is so restrictive and I’m already eating some fruit (actually two thirds of my daily fruit allotment) and vegetables at my improvised in-room breakfast, I only eat one full meal out.  By the way, that’s also saves you money you can use for the site seeing and trinkets for the folks back home (Wait until you see your Moon Pie tee shirt, Bear.) I try to eat my protein and starch allotments at this meal since it’s so easy to find restaurant meals consisting of this kind of food. Notice I’ve still got a fruit and two vegetables left.  That allowed me to try a local treat: zucchini with onions baked in cheese with bread crumbs on top.  I doubt the cheese was low fat or low sodium – oh well, I know it wasn’t because I asked – but I used my option to break the diet every once in a great while. Yummy.

I heard about another local favorite: peanuts dipped in Coca Cola.  Hmmmm, maybe I’m glad neither peanuts nor Coca Cola is on the renal diet.  In case you didn’t know, Coca Cola was first distributed in Chattanooga.

I used whatever food units I had left over for late in the evening snacks: animal crackers, ice cream, even a salt-less pretzel.  This was the most difficult part of the eating day.  It was severely tempting to fall into the I’m-on-vacation-and-I-can-break-the-renal-diet mentality.  I did once or twice and was sorry I did.  I’m not used to rich cakes or gooey candy anymore and paid for it.  That time spent in the bathroom could have been spent seeing more of this surprisingly beautiful city.  I didn’t expect the headache (and no aspirin permitted, of course), but experiencing this once or twice convinced me all over again that I just wasn’t that person who could eat whatever she wanted any more.

You also have to be careful about the bottled water you buy.  Dansani adds minerals, the very ones we don’t need as CKDers, to theirs.  Apparently, they’ve got the contract for all the local sites here, but I found an acceptable substitute for when I couldn’t get any other kind: unsweetened lemonade. I also learned to keep extra bottled water in my room and take a bottle of it WITH me to the sites so I wasn’t stuck with something I couldn’t be comfortable drinking.

I’ve not only learned everything I ever wanted to and more about the Civil War battles and natural wonders of Chattanooga, but also that I’m pretty comfortable traveling with CKD. Here’s hoping this week’s post has been inspiration for you to get yourself psyched about that vacation you were wondering if you could take.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!