How Alcohol Affects Your Kidneys

A variety of alcoholic beverages

With the holiday season in full swing, there are bound to be parties, get-togethers, and celebrations in the upcoming weeks, with many of them involving alcohol. While a drink or two at an occasional party will likely not have any serious effects on your kidneys, heavy drinking (four or more drinks daily) can have more serious implications on your health. Over time, the abuse of alcohol affects your kidneys in more ways than one: ranging from acute kidney failure to chronic kidney disease. 

Alcohol and Your Kidneys

Kidneys help filter toxins from your blood, and they also help to ensure you’re maintaining the right amount of water in your body. When you drink, alcohol affects your kidneys threefold. 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.

Alcohol and Acute Kidney Failure

The amount of alcohol being consumed is an important factor when it comes to kidney health.The general consensus of what makes up one drink is twelve ounces of beer, one glass (about 5 ounces) of wine, or a 1.5 ounces shot of liquor. Binge drinking occurs when more than five drinks are consumed in about two hours. Binge drinking can lead to a sudden drop in kidney function referred to as acute kidney failure. While acute kidney failure typically subsides over time, it can occasionally lead to lasting kidney damage.

Alcohol and Chronic Kidney Disease

Binge drinking aside, regular heavy drinking can damage kidneys over time. Consistent excessive alcohol consumption has been found to double the risk of developing chronic kidney disease, which does not go away on its own. These statistics increase when smoking is involved. Those who drink heavily and smoke are about five times more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than those who do not have those habits. 

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, it’s 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, it’s 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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