Does Alcohol Affect the Kidneys?
From Milwaukee’s historical breweries to an old fashioned at a supper club, or any variety of cherry-themed drinks from Door County, there’s no question that alcohol is a big part of Wisconsin’s social and cultural tapestry.
However, that part of the culture doesn’t come without consequences. Some health risks associated with drinking hardly need an introduction, while others are less well-known. The impact alcohol has on your kidneys is one of the lesser-known risks. Here, let’s take a closer look at the relationship between your kidneys and alcohol.
Can Alcohol Cause a Kidney Infection?
While there’s little evidence to suggest that alcohol directly causes kidney infections, it does put your kidneys under stress. This is because alcohol is a diuretic. Consuming too much alcohol and too few hydrating fluids like water can leave you dehydrated, and therefore more susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs). A UTI can spread to your bladder and potentially your kidney, which could cause some kidney pain.
How Are Your Kidneys Impacted By Alcohol?
As we mentioned, alcohol puts the kidneys under stress. Alcohol is a toxin, and consuming it gives your kidneys even more work to do. If you drink too much, your kidneys will struggle to maintain the proper amount of fluid within your body. This can potentially lead to acute kidney injury.
If you experience any of the following, it could be a symptom of acute kidney injury:
Alcohol Can Impact Your Kidneys Indirectly
To dramatically simplify things, your body is just a series of chain reactions. The consequence of that is when one part of your body stops working at its optimal level, the rest of the body is impacted too. That’s exactly what happens when your kidneys aren’t able to filter out the necessary toxins.
When your kidneys are stressed, the impact can be felt throughout your entire body. If you consume too much alcohol at once, or drink too regularly, it could have a negative effect on other organs that ultimately impact how well your kidneys function.
High Blood Pressure From Drinking Can Damage Your Kidneys
One of the main ways alcohol can damage your body and your kidneys is through hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure. Alcohol can lead to a greater presence of a hormone called renin in your blood. Higher levels of renin cause your blood vessels to contract, which ultimately forces your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body.
As blood vessels throughout your body become weaker and narrower, less blood and vital minerals are being delivered to the kidneys, making it harder for the kidneys to remove toxins from your blood and distribute other vital chemicals, hormones, and minerals to other organs.
The effects of high blood pressure on your kidneys can have a compounding effect, weakening both your blood vessels, your kidneys, and other organs until your kidneys ultimately fail.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption Can Lead to Diabetes
Consuming too much alcohol can eventually limit your body’s sensitivity to insulin and disrupt your body’s blood sugar levels. Additionally, alcohol can activate enzymes that cause pancreatic tissues to digest themselves, inflaming and damaging the pancreas further. This is referred to as acute pancreatitis, and repetitive damage can lead to chronic pancreatitis.
With chronic pancreatitis, your pancreas may lose its ability to properly produce or efficiently use insulin. This can result in diabetes, which ultimately increases your risk for kidney disease. Eventually, high blood sugar levels can damage your nephrons—the tiny filters in your kidneys—and reduce your kidneys’ ability to function.
Damage to your kidneys can be the start of a sequence of events that impairs all of the body’s organs.
Concerned About Your Kidney Health? Turn to Milwaukee Nephrologists
The relationship between alcohol and your kidneys is complex, but it’s worth understanding and paying attention to. Kidney infections aren’t likely to be caused by drinking, but alcohol can lead to other serious health complications, including chronic kidney disease.
If you’re experiencing kidney pain or are concerned about your kidneys’ health, don’t wait to take action; turn to Milwaukee Nephrologists.
Milwaukee Nephrologists is Southeast Wisconsin’s trusted source for kidney care. With four offices and 15 hospital affiliations in the Milwaukee metro area, we’re always nearby. To learn more or schedule an appointment, contact our team today.
Addiction can make you feel alone. The truth is that you aren’t. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to contact these organizations for help:
SAMHSA National Helpline (available in English and Spanish): Dial 1-800-662-4357
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988
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