The urine of survivors of the tragedy in the Andes was almost black. Because

(CNN Spanish) — The Netflix film “The Snow Society,” nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, brings to cinema a hyper-realistic account of one of the most shocking survival stories of the last half century.

The adverse climate, lack of food, a series of avalanches and the emotional challenge of spending 72 days at the top of the Andes, knowing that the authorities had suspended the search, were some of the difficulties the team members had to deal with. with. The Uruguayan rugby team that traveled to Chile for a sporting competition.

A health issue is depicted almost as a detail by the film’s director, the Spanish Juan Antonio Bayona, and caught the audience’s attention: survivors urinated dark brown, almost black.

Although there is a scene that shows this and a moment in which the survivors mention it, there is no explanation in the film as to what could be the reason behind this physical phenomenon.

Beyond the specific episode, the truth is that urine color is an important indicator of many issues related to hydration level, quantity and quality of food, condition of organs and even the intake of certain medications.

Capture of a scene from the film “The Snow Society”, in which survivors of the tragedy in the Andes are seen urinating almost black.

Experts consulted by CNN en Español agreed that the dark urine could be linked to dehydration, even though the survivors consumed water through a rudimentary system for melting ice.

“The kidneys are a blood filter, they help us get rid of toxins and water. When the kidneys don’t have water, they produce a dark color, not black, but very dark. So, if you If you don’t drink fluids, you’ll pass little urine, thick and dark yellow-orange in color. In contrast, if you drink a lot of water, your urine will be clear,” said Dr. Elmer Huerta told CNN.

However, the medical expert noted that the films contain elements of fantasy and dramatization: “Maybe the almost black color is an exaggeration. It’s probably dark, yes, but not that dark.”

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Dr. Juan Cardenas Rosales, an internist and medical leader of the Mayo Clinic’s international practice in Jacksonville, Florida, implicates other factors in explaining dehydration.

“Of course, the water itself allows for the light yellow color. But I don’t think dehydration causes that dark color, it has to be combined with something else.”

When investigating other causes beyond dehydration, both experts agree on the probable diagnosis.

“I think there’s a second explanation that depends on the cold,” Dr. Huerta said. He explained, “Extreme cold causes hypothermia, a phenomenon that affects all survivors. There are several studies that indicate that people who suffer severe hypothermia have a process of destruction of their muscle cells. . This is called rhabdomyolysis.”

In fact, according to an article published in the National Library of Medicine of the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH), acute hypothermia causes the destruction of muscle cells, releasing a substance called myoglobin into the blood. When myoglobin reaches the blood, it produces a very dark brown color in the urine, according to Dr. Huerta, in a disease known as rhabdomyolysis or “rhabdo.”

Urine samples of different colors. (Credit: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

“In the case of survivors of the Andes, the clinical picture may include dehydration, more hypothermia, more ‘rhabdo,'” Dr. Huerta told CNN.

Dr. Cardenas Rosales also says that kidney damage from rhabdomyolysis can cause dark urine. However, apart from cold, there is another reason for this condition to occur.

“Exercising too much or, as in the case of Andres’ survivors, exerting too much effort can also lead to rhabdomyolysis. This results in the breakdown of muscle tissue, releasing a toxin that can sometimes damage the kidneys, ” Indian.

In any case, “rhabdo” is a form of muscle damage that causes muscle fibers to die and be released into the bloodstream. According to a CNN article, without immediate medical attention, it can cause permanent damage to the kidneys.

Although this is the most compelling explanation for those involved in the tragedy in the Andes, Dr. Cárdenas Rosales emphasizes that, under normal circumstances, dark urine color can be caused by several factors.

“This can be from foods like aloe vera, or from antibiotics or certain medications used for constipation and seizures. It can also react to chronic conditions like urine infections. And it can also cause some bleeding in the system. “Maybe. The urinary system,” he concluded.

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