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What Do Kidneys Do With Alcohol

Why Do My Kidneys Hurt When I Drink Alcohol

Real Question: Can Daily Drinking Damage My Kidneys?

If you feel a sharp stabbing pain or a dull ache in your back under the ribcage when you drink alcohol, its possible that its your kidneys or a kidney stone. It also might be due to an anatomical issue, like a ureteropelvic junction obstruction. Both conditions would need to be evaluated and treated by your doctor.

Alcohol may also indirectly increase your risk of developing a UTI, which can cause kidney or abdominal pain.

Binge Drinking Alcohol And Kidney Disease

If you are a binge drinker, then you put yourself in the increasing danger of kidney disease. Binge drinking is consuming 4 to 5 plus drinks an hour. However, binge drinking floods your body with alcohol and increases BAC drastically. As a result, your kidneys cant keep up and lose their function. This damage from alcohol on your kidneys causes lasting damage.

How Much Is A Drink

When it comes to knowing how much alcohol is dangerous for kidney health you first need to know how much is a drink.

Experts define one drink as any of the following:

  • 12-ounce bottle of beer
  • 5 ounce glass of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of liquor

Depending on how many drinks you have will determine the type of drinking you do. The various levels of drinking include

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Alcoholism And Kidney Disease

The human body has dozens of vital organs, and the kidneys are among the most important. They regulate water intake and outtake, they balance the amount of minerals in the body, and they produce vital hormones, according to the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Threats to the normal functioning of the kidneys are serious medical problems, and alcoholism is a contributing factor to kidney disease.

If you or a loved one has pre-existing kidney issues or are concerned about alcohol consumption and kidney health, it may be time to seek professional help. Our admissions navigators are available 24/7 at to discuss treatment options and give you the information you need to begin your road to recovery.

All You Need To Know How Alcohol Affects Our Kidneys


There are far too many celebrities who have died of cirrhosis of the liver because they indulged in a glass too many of some kind of alcohol, too many times. So, it is unlikely that you are unaware of the downside of alcohol. However, do you know how alcohol can impair kidney function, which might even cause kidney failure? After all, kidneys are vital organs like the heart, lungs, liver, and eyes are. Unfortunately, alcohol is not simply so much fluid which the kidneys need to flush out.Beer flushes out kidney stones: Yes, there are many doctors who recommend drinking beer to flush out small renal calculi kidney stones in lay parlance but that does not mean you go on a drinking binge under the pretext that it is good for your kidney stones. In fact, there is a marked relation between heavy drinking, and the probability of getting kidney stones. So, first you should understand what kidney function entails.

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Causes Of Low Phosphate Levels In Alcoholics

The following causes may underlie low phosphate levels in severe alcoholics:

  • Phosphorus deficiency in the diet
  • Increased blood pH due to prolonged rapid breathing
  • Insulin administration
  • Administration of nutrients beyond normal requirements
  • Excessive excretion in urine
  • Magnesium deficiency.

SOURCE: Adapted from Epstein, M. Alcohol and the kidney. In: Lieber, C.S., ed. Medical and Nutritional Complications of Alcoholism: Mechanisms and Management. New York: Plenum Medical Book Company, 1992. p. 498.

Another potential cause of hypophosphatemia in alcoholic patients is hyperventilation, which can occur during alcohol withdrawal. Prolonged rapid, shallow breathing results in excessive loss of carbon dioxide and decreased blood acidity , which in turn activates an enzyme that enhances glucose breakdown. In glucose breakdown, phosphate becomes incorporated into various metabolic compounds, ultimately lowering blood levels of phosphate. As the rate of glucose breakdown increases, profound hypophosphatemia potentially can result.

So Where Does Alcohol Come Into All This

Alcohol will make you urinate far more than you normally do causing a fluid imbalance in your body. This puts unnecessary strain on the kidneys. It causes you to lose vital electrolytes, while tricking the other parts of your body into retaining water. Net result is that you end up feeling bloated, while the water content in your blood diminishes. Ironically, your skin begins to look parched and wrinkled as it fails to retain sufficient moisture. This means that your kidneys have to filter greater concentrations of toxins in a smaller amount of time. The chemical and mechanical damage caused to your kidneys is incalculable.

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What To Do If You Think Your Kidneys Are Not Working Right

If you experience any, some, or all of the above symptoms of poorly functioning kidneys, call your doctor. In the meantime, it would be wise to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, increase the amount of water you drink daily, and try to eat healthy meals.

When you drink too much or have alcoholism, your kidneys are working extra hard to rid the body of the excess alcohol, and you might feel some pain. As they work harder, you may be urinating more often, which can lead to dehydration. Dehydration interferes with proper functioning of the kidneys. If this is the case, you may feel kidney, back, and flank pain. The pain can be dull, sharp, or a stabbing-like pain, and it could be mild or severe and felt on one or both sides of the body.

In addition to this pain, you might also be experiencing these other symptoms,according to Healthline:

What Other Kidney Issues Are Associated With Alcohol/drinking

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Kidneys are vital to the overall healthy functioning of the human body and serve as filtration devices for any harmful or toxic substance that enters your bloodstream. When someone drinks in excess, the kidneys have to work harder to filter the bodys blood and can cause immense stress on the kidneys. The dehydrating effect of alcohol can negatively impact your bodys cell and organ functions. Additionally, alcohol in the body can impact the hormones that contribute to healthy kidney function in your body.3

Regular heavy drinking has been known to double the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Those who smoke cigarettes in addition to drinking heavily are about five times more likely to develop kidney disease than those who only drink excessively.3

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Treatment Of Symptoms And Complications

Doctors treat the problems caused by alcohol-related liver disease and the withdrawal symptoms that develop after people stop drinking.

Benzodiazepines are used to treat withdrawal symptoms is a depressant. Consuming large amounts rapidly or regularly can cause health problems, including organ damage, coma, and death. Genetics and personal characteristics may read more ). However, if alcohol-related liver disease is advanced, sedatives are used in small doses or avoided because they can trigger portosystemic encephalopathy Hepatic Encephalopathy Hepatic encephalopathy is deterioration of brain function that occurs in people with severe liver disease because toxic substances normally removed by the liver build up in the blood and reach read more .

What To Do If You Drink Alcohol And Experience Kidney Pain

A common idiom among urologists is, Dilution is the solution to the pollution, meaning that increasing water intake is the best way to make sure your kidneys are getting flushed out regularly and staying healthy. If you are routinely experiencing kidney pain when you drink alcohol there may be an underlying health problem that is exacerbated by alcohol . In order to make sure that you dont have a potentially serious health condition, you should make an appointment with your doctor.

If you struggle with alcohol use, contact The Orlando Recovery Center today to speak to a representative about how professional addiction treatment can help you achieve a healthier future.

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Put Your Health First

References1What’s a Standard Drink? National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed October 28, 2021. 2 Jewell, Tim. Does Alcohol Dehydrate You? Healthline. Healthline Media, May 23, 2019. .3 Alcohol and Your Kidneys. National Kidney Foundation, October 20, 2021. .

What Are The Long

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Alcohol is also known to dehydrate the body, which can affect the regular function of the kidneys. People who drink too much are also more likely to have high blood pressure. Over time, this can cause damage to your kidneys and result in CKD.

Heavy drinking can also cause liver disease, which also makes your kidneys work harder. Kidney disease may be complicated by liver disease.

Once CKD develops, it can impact nearly every part of the body. If you have CKD, you may eventually require dialysis or a kidney transplant.

If youre currently taking medications for kidney cancer or are having surgery to remove a kidney , talk with your doctor about how much alcohol is safe to have during treatment.

You should also talk with your doctor if youre experiencing any of the following symptoms:

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What Does Alcohol Do To Your Kidneys

The function of the kidneys in the body is to filter harmful substances out of the body. Alcohol is considered one of those harmful substances. While alcohol is mainly metabolized by the liver, some of these substances are released through the kidneys.

So, if you drink alcohol, especially often, the kidneys must work harder to return your blood to its usual state.

Is Drinking A Lot Of Water Good For Your Kidneys

Water helps the kidneys remove wastes from your blood in the form of urine. Water also helps keep your blood vessels open so that blood can travel freely to your kidneys, and deliver essential nutrients to them. But if you become dehydrated, then it is more difficult for this delivery system to work.

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The Dangers Of Alcohol Withdrawal

For many, alcohol-liver disease is an indication of severe alcoholism. If drinking has gotten to the point of liver damage, it usually means that the person has a very real dependency problem. And that can make treating alcoholism particularly tricky.

One of the main concerns involved has to do with the withdrawal stage. This is when the body has to reacclimate to functioning normally without alcohol. And for many, that means stopping drinking abruptly and entirely.

The problem, however, is that doing so can cause very serious health problems, some of which can even be life-threatening.

Tonic-clonic seizures, for instance, can be common for people who have an especially high level of addiction.

Others may experience whats known as delirium tremens. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Delirium, which is sudden severe confusion
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, touch
  • Stupor, sleepiness, fatigue

This horrifying syndrome can also cause a range of complications like heart attack and stroke.

Its especially important, then, that anyone with alcohol-related liver disease finds a facility equipped to handle the medical emergencies that may come with severe alcohol withdrawal.

Because without it, alcohol detox and rehabilitation can actually end up being deadly.

What Does Drinking Do To Your Kidneys

7 Ways to Detox and Cleanse Your Kidneys Naturally

Alcohol can cause changes in the function of the kidneys and make them less able to filter your blood. In addition to filtering blood, your kidneys do many other important jobs. One of these jobs is keeping the right amount of water in your body. Alcohol affects the ability of your kidneys to do this.

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How Can Kidney Disease Be Prevented

Preventing the risk of kidney disease entails taking care of your heart and weight. This might mean eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, exercising, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption. For most people, simply scaling back drinks to one or two a week is enough to dodge this particular bullet. For many others, especially those who are struggling with alcoholism or who have a history of alcoholism in the family, a complete ban on alcohol might be the safest option.

WebMD also recommends getting tested regularly, especially if you have a higher chance of developing kidney disease than the general population. If you have a history of kidney problems in your family, if you have other kidney-related problems like diabetes or high blood pressure, or if you are dealing with alcohol abuse, regular testing can uncover the warning signs of kidney disease, opening the door to preventative treatment.

Testing can include urine tests to check the chemical composition of urine, an imbalance of which would suggest that the kidneys are in trouble blood pressure readings and glucose tests to measure blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C, which shows the average blood sugar level in the last three months.

Social And Occupational Damage

In the same way, some of the emotional damage that occurs as a result of the dissolution of a marriage, lost contact with family, loss of a job etc., may never be fully resolved however, individuals in solid recovery programs learn to move forward and accept the past. The length of time that it takes to address or correct this type of damage varies from person to person and from situation to situation.

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Alcohol Affects The Liver Which Makes Kidneys Work Harder To Filter Blood

A liver is a major organ which can be affected by excess alcohol consumption. When the liver is affected and unable to handle the amount of ethanol consumed, the kidneys take over some part of its work. The rate of blood flow to the part of the body is kept at a constant level for it to filter blood. When the liver is impaired, the balancing act is affected, hence overworking the organ, which leads to its dysfunction.

What Can You Do

What is the pathway a uric acid molecule takes from a glomerulus to the ...

Always check with your healthcare provider to make sure it is safe for you to drink alcohol. Even if it is safe, it is important to drink in moderation. A good guideline is: no more than one to two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women and people over 65.

If you would like more information, please contact us.

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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 alcohols 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.

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Alcohol And High Blood Pressure

If you have high blood pressure, you should pay special attention to the way alcohol affects your kidneys and your overall health. Heavy drinkers are more likely to develop high blood pressure than non-drinkers. In addition to contributing to the development of high blood pressure, alcohol also has the potential to affect certain high blood pressure medications. Promote healthy kidney function and blood pressure by limiting the amount of alcohol you consume.

Alcohol, especially when consumed in excess, negatively affects many of the systems of the body. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, its recommended that men have no more than two drinks per day, and that women have no more than one drink per day. Of course, if you have any questions about your personal relationship with alcohol, its best to consult a healthcare professional.

At Durham Nephrology, our team is experienced in providing treatment and guidance to kidney patients. If you have questions about taking care of yourself while dealing with kidney disease, call us at 919-477-3005 to talk to a staff member and make an appointment.

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Effects On Fluid And Electrolyte Balance

One of the main functions of the kidneys is to regulate both the volume and the composition of body fluid, including electrically charged particles , such as sodium, potassium, and chloride ions . However, alcohols ability to increase urine volume alters the bodys fluid level and produces disturbances in electrolyte concentrations. These effects vary depending on factors such as the amount and duration of drinking, the presence of other diseases, and the drinkers nutritional status .


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