Kidney Disease And Failure
A substantial amount of evidence exists that indirectly links excessive alcohol use to damaged kidneys. Organ systems including the liver, the gastrointestinal tract and even muscle tissue are connected to the kidneys. Because alcohol is toxic, when these organ systems are exposed to it, they become inflamed and send pro-inflammatory molecules to the kidneys. Over time, these molecules may accumulate in the kidneys and cause damage that leads to kidney disease and, eventually, kidney failure.
Assessment Of Alcohol Consumption
Participants were surveyed on their alcohol consumption habits during the preceding year. Information was collected on the frequency of drinking alcoholic beverages including unrefined or refined rice wine, beer, Korean distilled liquor, wine and liquors amount per serving and the size of the drinking glass. The amount of pure alcohol in grams per day was calculated based on the frequency of alcohol consumption by alcohol type over the past year, the amount of each alcohol drink per one drinking occasion, the alcohol content of each alcoholic beverage , and ethanol density . Total alcohol intake was calculated as the sum of the amount of pure alcohol consumed per day in the form of the above beverages. Participants were categorized into four groups according to total alcohol intake: 0 g/day , 0 to< 10 g/day, 10 to< 30 g/day, and30 g/day. Based on the weekly frequency of alcohol consumption, participants were classified into four groups: non-drinkers,< 1 times/week, 13 times/week, and4 times/week. Binge drinking was defined as consuming, on average, seven or more drinks at a time for men or five or more drinks at a time for women.
How Does Alcohol Affect Kidney Health
The human body has many vital organs, and the kidneys are among the most important. The kidneys regulate water intake and output. They also balance the level of minerals in the body and produce essential hormones.
Threats to the proper functioning of the kidneys lead to severe medical issues. For example, alcoholism is a leading contributing factor to kidney disease.
The kidneys work hard on any day in a healthy person, but the kidneys of an excessive drinker work overtime.
A heavy drinker is recognized as a woman who drinks alcohol more than seven times a week or a man who drinks more than 14 times a week.11
One type of alcohol consumption that contributes to kidney disease is binge drinking. Binge drinking is typically defined as drinking four or five drinks within two hours.
Binge drinking leads a persons blood alcohol content to heighten to dangerous levels. In turn, this may cause the kidneys to lose their function, potentially leading to acute kidney injury.
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How Alcohol Affects Kidneys
Is alcohol bad for your kidneys? The answer is yes, although the damage is not always noticed at once.
Kidneys serve as a body filter, removing the harmful substances from the system. Alcohol is one of such toxic elements and is mainly excreted through kidneys and liver thus, these organs suffer the most. Alcohol negatively affects the body part in the following ways.
Does Alcohol Affect Kidneys
While popular and legal for adults to consume, alcohol is, in fact, toxic to the human body. It breaks down the beverage and eliminates it from the bloodstream as quickly as possible to avoid the potential for damage. Much of this processing job falls to the liver. However, the kidneys also play an important role by filtering alcohols breakdown products and excreting them in the urine.
As a rule, a healthy person who only drinks moderate amounts of alcohol every once in a while will not experience any kidney-related consequences. However, a real possibility for significant problems arises in people who drink in excessive amounts because of the side effects of alcohol and kidneys.
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Drink To Your Kidneys’ Health
Drinking Alcohol in Moderation May Actually Be Good for Your Kidneys
May 12, 2005 — A drink a day may do your kidneys more good than harm, rather than the other way around.
Although some previous studies show that alcohol use may be harmful to the kidneys and increase the risk of kidney failure, a large new study indicates that the reverse might be true — at least when alcohol is consumed in moderation.
If those results hold up to further scrutiny, researchers say preventing kidney failure may be yet another benefit of drinking alcohol in moderation, in addition to other recently discovered perks, such as reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Moderation is defined as no more than two alcoholic drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. A “standard drink” is defined as 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
Reasons Why Your Kidneys Hurt After Drinking Alcohol
Here are the most common causes of kidney pain after drinking alcohol:
1. Liver Disease
Liver disease makes you more likely to experience pain or discomfort after drinking alcohol. This is especially likely if your liver is affected by alcoholism. Liver disease can also affect blood flow to the kidneys and lead them to be less effective in filtering blood.8
To treat liver disease, your doctor may suggest that you stop drinking alcohol, lose weight, and follow a healthy, nutritious diet. Some cases of liver disease may require surgery or medications. A liver transplant may be necessary in cases of liver failure.
2. Kidney Stones
Kidney stones may develop due to alcohol-induced dehydration. Drinking alcohol if you already have kidney stones may lead them to move quickly, contributing to or increasing kidney pain. It may be possible to treat small kidney stones by drinking more water, taking medication, or using home remedies.7
3. Kidney Infection
A kidney infection is a type of UTI, short for urinary tract infection. It begins in the urethra or bladder and travels to one or both kidneys.6
The symptoms and condition of a UTI may worsen after drinking alcohol. If you have a kidney infection, drink plenty of water and meet with your doctor straight away.
You can use heat or pain medication to reduce discomfort. You will usually be prescribed antibiotics, too. Severe or recurring kidney infections may need surgery or hospitalization.
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Overcoming Addiction And Healing The Body
Urinary tract damage can occur rapidly due to the level of toxicity associated with substance abuse. When an individual is struggling with substance abuse for an extended period of time, it is not uncommon for the user to experience painful urinary tract complications. Long-term addiction can also lead to irreparable damages to the kidneys and bladder to a degree in which the body cannot heal. Making the decision to enter a rehabilitation program, overcoming addiction, and maintaining abstinence can prevent further damage to the urinary tract and other vital organ systems. If an individual is suffering from substance abuse induced urinary tract damage, it is absolutely imperative for the individual to enter a comprehensive treatment program that effectively addresses co-occurring medical disorders.
The Link Between Alcohol And Kidney Disease
Although many factors can lead to kidney disease, chronic AUD is a common one. Even though your family history and lifestyle affect your risk of kidney disease, alcohol greatly increases your chance of developing kidney disease.
If you misuse alcohol, you will start to experience issues with your kidneys. But, chronic misuse increases these issues. As a result, you can develop kidney damage and kidney disease.
Moreover, if you develop kidney disease from alcohol or any other reason, you will also have other health issues.
Alcohol and kidney disease also leads too:
- Chronic fatigue
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How Alcohol Travels Through Your Body
Your bloodstream distributes alcohol quickly to your brain, kidney, lungs and liver. On average, your liver takes an hour to break down one unit of alcohol. This can depend on:
- your weight
- how quickly your body turns food into energy
- how much food youve eaten
- the strength and type of alcohol
- any medicine youre taking
How Does Alcohol Affect Your Kidneys
The effects of alcohol on your kidneys can lead to many health issues. Find out how treatment for alcohol misuse at Discovery Institute can reduce the risk of kidney disease.
Reviewed by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD
New Jersey Drug & Alcohol Rehab / Alcohol Rehab / How Does Alcohol Affect Your Kidneys?
Get started on your road to recovery.
We all know that drinking too much alcohol is bad for our health. But, this is especially true for alcohol and your kidneys. Having a few drinks now and then wont typically affect your health. However, misusing alcohol and alcohol use disorder can affect the kidneys and lead to kidney disease. If you are struggling with AUD, treatment at Discovery Institute can help you.
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Alcohol And Kidney Disease
Drinking alcohol heavily can have several long-term health consequences including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. These conditions commonly lead to kidney disease. Excessive drinking is considered to be more than four drinks per day. This doubles your risk of developing chronic kidney disease or long-term kidney damage. The risk increases if youre a smoker.
Kidneys that have been overworked due to excess alcohol consumption dont function properly. This makes them less able to filter blood and maintain the correct water balance in the body. The hormones that control kidney function can also be adversely affected.
Heavy drinking can also cause liver disease, which makes your kidneys have to work harder. When you have liver disease, your body doesnt balance the flow and filtering of blood as well as it should. This has a harmful effect on your overall health and can increase the chance of complications.
Treatment For Alcohol Misuse And Kidney Disease
Treatment for AUD varies depending on your needs. If you struggle with chronic alcohol misuse, treatment begins with a medical detox program. Afterward, treatment may involve a variety of therapies in either inpatient or outpatient settings.
Treatment for AUD may include:
- Detox and withdrawal Medical detox provides a safe place for you to withdrawal from alcohol. Detox typically lasts up to 7 days, but that also depends on the person.
- Psychotherapy Therapies in individual and group settings are a vital part of treatment. Therapy sessions can help you better understand yourself and your issue with alcohol. Because family is crucial in treatment, family therapy is often part of treatment.
- Medication management For some people with AUD, the use of medications in treatment is vital. The changes that alcohol causes to the brain can be lethal when a person stops drinking.
- Treatment for other mental health issues Many people who misuse alcohol also have a mental disorder. As a result, dual diagnosis treatment offers whole-person treatment. It also lowers a persons relapse rate.
- Holistic or alternative therapies Many treatment centers offer holistic therapies. These therapies may include yoga, meditation, mindfulness.
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Should I Be Concerned About The Health Risks Of Drinking Alcohol
Moderate drinking can be a part of a healthy lifestyle, but its important to understand the effects that chronic drinking can have on the body.
There are many health risks of consuming excessive alcohol use over time. This is why its important to see your healthcare provider regularly and be open and honest about how much alcohol you drink so you any health-related damage can be found early. Regular health check-ups and blood tests can help detect early signs of disease in the brain, kidneys and liver. If youre in Connecticut and would like to find a doctor near you, you can locate a board-certified PACT primary care physician using our searchable list here.
Abnormal Changes In Kidney Structures
According to a study by Chaikoff et al, chronic alcoholism can bring about changes in some kidney structures. For one, it can lead to the thickening of the glomerular membrane.
It can also cause the enlargement and the thickening of the cells in the kidney tubules. Changes in these kidney structures can lead to a decreased ability to filter out the wastes in the body. In the long run, it might render the kidney incapable of filtering blood for good.
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A New Benefit For Drinking In Moderation
The study followed more than 11,000 healthy men for 14 years and found that men who averaged at least seven drinks per week had a 30% lower risk of having elevated blood creatinine levels, a marker of kidney dysfunction, compared with men who had one or fewer drinks per week.
A similar protective effect of moderate alcohol use was found for another marker of kidney health known as the glomerular filtration rate , which measures the normal filtering capacity of the kidneys.
The results appear in the May 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Researchers say the findings are contrary to previous studies that have shown alcohol use may increase the risk of kidney failure due to alcohol’s effect on increasing blood pressure. Uncontrolled blood pressure is a risk factor for kidney failure.
While high blood pressure was more common in the group of men who drank moderate amounts of alcohol, this group had a decreased risk of kidney disease.
A similar, smaller study in women showed no protective effect of alcohol use on the risk of kidney dysfunction. Two other studies that examined the link between alcohol use and kidney health showed an increased risk of kidney dysfunction and kidney failure.
Many of the heart-healthy benefits of moderate drinking have been attributed to its ability to increase HDL cholesterol levels.
Effects Of Substance Abuse On The Renal System
**The information in this article is designed for educational purposes and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. If anyone believes they have a problem with the functioning of their kidneys or a substance use disorder, they should contact a licensed medical professional. For substance abuse rehabilitation please call our toll free number at
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Do Certain Drinks Foods Or Medication Cause Kidney Stones
Experts have found that certain drinks, foods, and medication may increase ones risk of developing a kidney stone:4
- Animal proteins .
- Oxalate-rich foods .
- Sodium .
- Diuretic drinks .
- Medication .
Its important to talk with your doctor about all your health concerns including proper diet, exercise, and alcohol consumption. Brief health screenings by your provider can help determine if you are at increased risk for developing these types of health problems.
The Kidneys And Other Organs
Drinking too much alcohol can also impact blood pressure, elevating it a common cause of kidney disease. Not only is alcohol use affecting kidneys directly, but also indirectly through the other consequences that can occur. Along with heightened blood pressure, alcohol use has a serious effect on the liver functioning and can actually lead to major liver damage and even cirrhosis in some cases.
Unfortunately, in order for the kidneys to function at the highest level, they rely on the proper functioning of the liver. If there is impairment in liver function, it can lead to decreased ability of the kidneys. In fact, most patients in the United States who are diagnosed with both liver disease and kidney problems are alcohol dependent.
For alcohol-related problems, most kidney dysfunction will occur during excessive, or binge, drinking sessions.
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Potential Causes Of Kidney Pain
As mentioned above, a possible cause of kidney pain after drinking water is ureteropelvic junction obstruction. This rare condition results from a partial or total blockage of the junction where your kidneys attach to the ureters, stopping or slowing the urine flow.
Most cases are congenital, according to the Urology Care Foundation. However, it is possible to develop ureteropelvic junction obstruction in adulthood due to kidney stones or inflammation in the upper urinary tract. Some types of surgery may cause this disorder, too.
In general, ureteropelvic junction obstruction affects just one kidney. Its symptoms include kidney stones, vomiting, blood in the urine, and pain in the back or upper abdominal area, especially when drinking fluids. You may also notice an enlarged mass in the abdomen or develop urinary tract infections accompanied by fever.
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Several other renal disorders may cause kidney pain. Polycystic kidney disease, kidney stones, kidney cancer, injuries and digestive diseases are just a few examples. However, if you have any of these conditions, your kidney wont necessarily hurt after drinking water. Again, its important to reach out to a healthcare provider, so you can identify the exact cause and receive appropriate treatment.
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Preventing Kidney Damage And Disease
To keep your kidneys healthy, it is important to always check with your healthcare provider to ensure it is safe for you to consume alcohol. Even if it is safe, moderation is key. At Summit Medical Clinic, we provide consultation and ongoing care for the prevention and treatment of kidney-related diseases. Schedule an appointment by calling 630-1006 or visiting our website.
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Changes In Blood Flow To The Kidney
Alcohol-related liver disease is again, the culprit behind this change. A compromised liver can either increase or decrease the flow of plasma through the glomerulus, which can then lead to lower or higher rates of blood filtration.
To make matters worse, a study in dogs has shown that such blood flow changes remain in place up to 7 weeks after alcohol ingestion. With these flow changes, your kidneys are at risk of developing imminent failure.