Every organ of our body has distinct roles to play in our metabolism. Kidneys are one of the most important body organs we usually take for granted. We think that they don’t need that much attention until they fail. Unfortunately, you could end up damaging your kidneys without even knowing it.
If you are a heavy drinker, you put tremendous pressure on your kidneys every time you consume alcohol. Here we will discuss what you need to know about alcohol and kidney stones and how you can save your precious kidneys from the negative impacts of alcohol.
Functions of Kidneys
Kidneys are responsible for maintaining the homeostasis process, which is keeping the balance of all the extracellular fluids of your body. The basic functions of kidneys are:
- Filtering toxins and waste from blood
- Maintaining a sufficient amount of plasma for improved blood circulation to the vital organs.
- Activating Vitamin D in your system by releasing a special hormone
- Maintaining a healthy balance of ion concentration in your body by regulating three main ion substances – sodium, potassium, and calcium
- Supporting your liver to keep a healthy balance of all the necessary substances in your body system
So, it is beyond explanation that you need your kidneys full and well functioning to lead a healthy life.
Alcohol Effect on Kidneys
The primary role of the kidneys is to remove waste and filter out dangerous substances from your body. One of these harmful substances is alcohol. So when you consume alcohol on a regular basis, whether it is heavy drinking or binge drinking, you are putting a lot of extra pressure on your precious kidneys. Alcohol keeps the kidneys busy and disrupts their normal functioning, which is removing toxins and waste. This often leads to further health complications, such as chronic kidney failure.
Kidneys maintain the fluid levels into the body system, including water. However, alcohol hinders this process since the main effect of alcohol is drying up the fluids inside the body. This has a negative impact not only on kidneys but also on the body cells and other organs.
Almost all of the common kidney diseases have a common cause of high blood pressure. Alcohol has a direct hand on this issue. Drinking excess alcohol is directly correlated with high blood pressure. Long-term alcohol consumption puts a lot of pressure on the artillery muscles of your heart, which may lead to Cardiomyopathy and chronic high blood pressure. For your information, cardiomyopathy is a failure of proper blood pumping. All of these could contribute to kidney failure in the long term.
As stated above, kidneys filter out the toxins and waste from blood flow that come from the liver. To filter blood, kidneys need a constant and limited blood flow. However, alcohol consumption has some serious implications on chronic liver diseases. A study conducted by the National Kidney Foundation found that in the US, those who suffered from liver diseases also developed chronic kidney diseases later on. The reason behind this was that an unhealthy liver couldn’t keep a constant blood flow to the kidneys, putting them on tremendous extra pressure that eventually led to kidney failure.
Alcohol and Kidney Disease
Due to the exposure of various toxins and body waste, your kidney is susceptible to various diseases, including chronic kidney diseases. Alcohol is the leading cause of major kidney diseases, which is why alcohol and kidney disease go hand in hand. Let us now see some major kidney diseases that you could suffer from due to regular consumption of alcohol :
Chronic Kidney failure
Chronic kidney failure refers to the gradual loss of kidney function. This gradual failure could occur due to the dysfunction of the liver or any other reason. When a kidney fails, the body waste, toxins and electrolytes that kidneys are supposed to remove through the urinary system could build up inside the body.
Chronic kidney failure may have few symptoms in the early stages but usually, these symptoms don’t become apparent until the kidney fails to function heavily. The common symptoms of chronic kidney failure may include:
- Nausea: Nausea is related to the urge to vomit. You could feel like you might start vomiting anytime, or you are empty in the head or your head has become heavy. You may also feel uncomfortable to breathe even in a well-ventilated place.
- Vomiting: Regular vomiting with other symptoms described here is another major symptom of kidney failure. But be aware that vomiting on alone doesn’t indicate to kidney failures.
- Sleep problems: You may face constant trouble in sleeping if your kidney fails to function. That is due to the toxins and body waste that is building inside your body.
- Change in urination: A change in urination is a leading symptom of kidney failure or kidney pain. You may face constant urine pressure or wake up from sleep due to this reason. The color of your urine could also change due to kidney failure. You can compare your urine color with this urine color chart to know more about this issue.
Kidney stones are solid masses of crystal that usually build into the kidneys. Sometimes this crystal can develop in any part of the urinary tracts like ureters, bladders or urethra. Kidney stones are one of the most painful medical conditions. The solid masses of crystals can be calcium, uric acid, struvite or cystine. Kidney stones are caused due to many reasons, including heavy drinking or unhealthy diet for a long time. Gender also plays a role in this regard. According to the National Kidney Foundation, men are more prone to kidney stones risk than women. Alcohol and kidney stones are analogous in this sense since heavy drinking is the leading cause of kidney stones and other major kidney diseases.
The main symptom of kidney stones is severe pain. This pain could be felt in various parts of the lower abdomen area. However, one may not feel kidney stone pain until it moves on the ureters. For men, the pain may be in the groin area. Some other symptoms of kidney stones are fever, nausea, blood in the urine and vomiting.
How Much Alcohol Can You Drink?
We all know heavy drinking is injurious to health. If possible, you should give up on this harmful habit altogether. However, if you are unable to do that, make sure that you drink alcoholic beverages with moderation. It is important for you to remember that when we are talking about one drink, we are referring 12-ounce bottle of beer, 5-ounce glass of wine and 1.5-ounce glass of hard liquor. Here is a list stating how much drinking is considered safe by medical experts. However, these conditions vary due to individual medical conditions, ages, and other personal attributes. So you must consult your doctor before setting your drinking limit for a healthy body.
Different drinking levels for Men & Women
|Men||4 drinks per day||5 drinks within 120 minutes||12 drinks per week|
|Women||3 drinks per day||3-4 drinks within 120 minutes||7 drinks per week|
To conclude, kidneys are the silent guardian of your body system. You can never fully appreciate their importance for your body until they fail. As you have seen, the effects of alcohol on kidneys are severe, which may lead to chronic kidney failures or even more complicated medical conditions. So keep your alcohol consumption in check and you could even try kidney supplements for a healthy life.