Effects of Alcohol on the Kidneys

Though it’s reversible with treatment, it can increase the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. One form of alcohol abuse that contributes to kidney disease is binge drinking, usually defined as consuming four or five drinks within two hours. Binge drinking causes a person’s blood alcohol content to rise to dangerous levels, which in turn causes the kidneys to lose their function so much, the term for this is acute kidney injury.

  • Aside from urinating often, excessive alcohol in one night may lead to vomiting.
  • In addition to contributing to the development of high blood pressure, alcohol also has the potential to affect certain high blood pressure medications.
  • Investigators have observed alcohol-related changes in the structure and function of the kidneys and impairment in their ability to regulate the volume and composition of fluid and electrolytes in the body.
  • For example, alcohol-induced liver damage causes high blood pressure, which is linked to kidney disease.
  • We just discussed the connection between heavy drinking and high blood pressure.

For example, alcohol causes dehydration, which decreases blood flow to the kidneys and makes it more difficult for them to do their job. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol use, it’s https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/women-and-alcoholism-how-to-recognize-an-addiction/ important to be aware of how it can affect kidney function and health. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause kidney damage, but it is not directly linked to the development of kidney cancer.

Eating out and takeaways on a kidney frien…

Binge drinking (usually more than four to five drinks within two hours) can raise a person’s blood alcohol to dangerous levels. This can cause a sudden drop in kidney function known as “acute kidney injury.” When this happens, dialysis is needed until a person’s kidney function returns to normal. Acute kidney injury usually goes away in time, but in some cases, it can lead to lasting kidney damage.

Even without binge drinking, regularly drinking too much too often can also damage the kidneys. Regular heavy drinking has been found to double the risk chronic kidney disease, which does not go away over time. Even higher risk of kidney problems has been found for heavy drinkers who also smoke. Smokers who are heavy drinkers have about five times the chance of developing CKD than people who don’t smoke or drink alcohol to excess. According to the National Kidney Foundation, the role of the kidneys is to filter out harmful substances like alcohol from your blood. Alcohol is able to change how the kidneys function and reduce the ability of the kidneys to filter your blood.


Some people with kidney disease may need dialysis or a kidney transplant. Without treatment, a person with an acute kidney injury may have a seizure or go into a coma. The risk and extent of kidney damage will only increase as alcohol use continues.

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. Excessive alcohol use can also cause liver disease, which in turn puts more stress on the kidneys. For this reason, chronic alcohol use can lead to both liver and kidney disease. Similarly, there’s minimal evidence to suggest that alcohol increases the risk of kidney stones or kidney infections.

How kidneys recover from alcohol damage

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. Kidney disease can also be brought about by high blood pressure and liver disease, both of which are possible effects of alcoholism. In order to do their job properly, the kidneys need a certain rate of blood flowing into them; a liver that is damaged by alcohol abuse cannot properly regulate the blood that the kidneys receive. The National Kidney Foundation notes that most patients who have both liver disease and problems with their kidneys struggle with alcohol dependence as well.

  • The difficulties in successfully managing dilutional hyponatremia have resulted in the recent emergence of a promising class of new drugs to treat this abnormality.
  • Yes, binge drinking can cause severe dehydration and put a strain on the kidneys.
  • “Liver disease can have significant impacts on the kidneys,” says Dr. Bobart.
  • Services include medical detox, residential and outpatient treatment, and aftercare programs that are designed to help you maintain lifelong sobriety.
  • As mentioned, drinking too much too frequently causes high blood pressure.
  • These alcohol-related causes of death include chronic diseases, acute poisoning, injury, and perinatal causes.

They can perform tests to determine if you have alcoholic kidney disease and recommend appropriate treatment options. Kidneys help filter toxins from your blood, and they also help to ensure you’re maintaining the right amount of water in your body. First, alcohol itself is considered a harmful substance that your kidneys have to work to filter out of your blood. Unfortunately, alcohol also disrupts the normal function of your kidneys, making them less able to filter the blood at all. Finally, alcohol dehydrates your body, which further hinders the normal function of your cells and organs. Despite the clinical importance of alcohol’s effects on the kidney, however, relatively few recent studies have been conducted to characterize them or elucidate their pathophysiology.

How much alcohol is too much?

A progressive accumulation of extracellular fluid results, and this excess fluid is sequestered primarily in the abdominal region, where it manifests as marked swelling (i.e., ascites) (see figure). In addition, excess fluid accumulates in spaces between cells, clinically manifested as swelling (i.e., edema) of the lower back and legs. As long as cirrhotic patients remain unable to excrete sodium, they will continue to retain the sodium they consume in their diet. Consequently, they will develop increasing ascites and edema and experience weight gain.

Thus, while there is no direct link between the consumption of alcohol and kidney stones, drinking can contribute to the formation of kidney stones. Excessive alcohol use can also lead to high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of developing kidney disease. After you drink an alcoholic beverage, your body experiences an acute spike in blood pressure for up to two hours. People with chronic kidney disease should not drink alcohol at all, and they can speak to a doctor for help with quitting if they are finding it challenging. In addition, some studies have suggested a link between heavy alcohol use and an increased risk of bladder cancer, which can sometimes spread to the kidneys. Therefore, it is important to limit alcohol intake and engage in healthy habits to maintain proper kidney function and overall well-being.

Even at high blood alcohol levels, only minor fluctuations were found in the rates of plasma flow and filtration through the kidneys (Rubini et al. 1955). The kidney tubules play an important role in keeping the body’s water and electrolyte levels in equilibrium. In many cases, control mechanisms govern the rate of reabsorption or secretion in response to the body’s fluctuating needs (see table for a summary of the body processes influenced by key electrolytes).

For people with diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD), alcohol may be safe to drink if you have your blood sugar level under control. It’s always wise to check with your doctor or dietitian before incorporating alcohol into your diet and alcohol and kidneys it is recommended that you combine your alcohol with food. Alcohol on an empty stomach can cause blood sugar levels to drop in those with diabetes. Additional ingredients in mixed drinks may also add carbohydrate that must be considered.

What to Do If You Drink Alcohol and Experience Kidney Pain

The events leading to abnormal sodium handling in patients with cirrhosis are complex and controversial, however. Investigators have advanced several theories suggesting the involvement of a constellation of hormonal, neural, and hemodynamic mechanisms (Epstein 1996; Laffi et al. 1996). In contrast, the “overflow” theory postulates that ascites follows when the kidneys retain sodium in response to signals sent by a dysfunctional liver to expand plasma volume. The answer to this version of the “chicken-and-egg” question remains to be elucidated. Most of the metabolic reactions essential to life are highly sensitive to the acidity (i.e., hydrogen ion concentration) of the surrounding fluid.

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.