How Military Service Increases the Risk of Kidney Disease

How Military Service Increases the Risk of Kidney Disease

Posted On: May 30, 2024


Serving in the military is noble. However, it has some health risks that are not immediately obvious. Research shows that veterans have a higher risk of getting chronic kidney disease (CKD). This risk is higher than for civilians. This article delves into the causes of this higher risk. It also covers the long-term health effects. It covers the reasons that veterans may use to protect their kidneys.

Table of Content

  • Introduction
  • Risk Factors for Kidney Disease in Military Personnel
  • Long-Term Health Effects of Military Service on Kidneys
  • Protecting Your Kidney Health During and After Military Service
  • FAQs
  • Conclusion


Service members risk their lives to defend our country. Combat is dangerous, but military service has hidden health concerns. Risk factors include chronic kidney disease. Kidney failure may result from CKD, which gradually reduces kidney function. Veterans have a greater CKD rate than others. This article will discuss why military service raises kidney disease risk. It's going to cover its long-term effects and how veterans may protect their kidneys.

Risk Factors for Kidney Disease in Military Personnel

Serving in the military can increase your risk of getting kidney disease in many ways. Here's how it works:

  1. Dehydration: Military training and deployments often involve hard physical work in hot places. This can lead to dehydration. When dehydration affects the kidneys, they can become tired and less effective.
  2. Exposure to Toxins: Deployment waste disposal methods, such as burn pits, emit toxic compounds. They go into the atmosphere. The kidneys are vulnerable to these toxins. Chemicals may also pollute the water at some military bases. These include per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). They're linked to a higher rate of kidney cancer.
  3. Acute Kidney Injury (AKI): AKI is a rapid episode of kidney damage. It may happen from injuries in battle or training. There is still a chance of getting chronic kidney disease (CKD) when an AKI has recovered.
  4. Underlying Medical Conditions: Pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, might worsen in the military. It would raise the risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD).


Military Service

Civilian Life


High Risk (strenuous activity, hot environments)

Lower Risk (easier access to fluids)

Toxin Exposure

High Risk (burn pits, PFAS)

Lower Risk (less exposure)

Acute Kidney Injury

High Risk (combat injuries)

Lower Risk

Underlying Medical Conditions

May worsen due to stress, limited healthcare access

More consistent healthcare management

Long-Term Health Effects of Military Service on Kidneys

Chronic kidney disease might have many complications, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Bone disease
  • Anemia
  • Weakened immune system

By finding and treating CKD early, these problems can be better managed. It's also able to improve overall health.


Are all veterans at risk of kidney disease?

While more veterans are at risk, it doesn't mean they'll all suffer from chronic kidney disease. Individual variables contribute. These include pre-existing health conditions and toxic exposure.

What are the symptoms of kidney disease?

The majority of the time, there are no symptoms associated with early CKD. Swelling of the ankles, high blood pressure, too much urine, and tiredness may occur later.

Where can veterans get help with kidney disease?

Veterans with kidney disease may get help. The VA healthcare system helps them receive a diagnosis, treatment, and support.


Serving in the military is honorable. However, it's vital to know the possible health risks. To stay healthy during and after your service, you must know what puts you at risk for kidney disease. Then, you must take steps to prevent it.