The effects of alcohol are widely known. Though many people can drink without a problem, most people are aware that binge drinking and misuse can adversely affect a person’s life.
It well-documented that alcohol can cause dehydration, and people under the influence of alcohol do not always drink enough water. This results in a hangover and a lack of energy the day after drinking.
In 2011, Medical News Today reported that smoking and regular alcohol consumption were key reasons why women were developing kidney stones at higher rates.
Alcohol plays an important role in the formation of uncomfortable kidney stones.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center explains that kidney stones can be of different sizes, equal to a grain of salt or up to the size of the entire kidney. They are made up of minerals and salts that bind and form a stone.
Though they are not life-threatening, they can be uncomfortable. The pain can be difficult to bear as they pass through a person’s urinary tract.
A few factors that contribute to the formation of kidney stones include:
If a kidney stone is small enough, a person may pass it without incident. Larger kidney stones may require intervention.
Though alcohol is not the sole cause of kidney stones, it can contribute to their formation.
Per MedlinePlus, there are four kinds of kidney stones.
In 2013, the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that carbonated drinks (soda) posed the highest risks for forming kidney stones.
The study looked at beer and wine, which were determined to have the lowest risk of forming kidney stones.
The study did not look at mixed drinks, but these usually have added ingredients, such as simple syrup, sugar-laden juices, and other sweeteners.
On April 2018, the Independent created a list of worst alcohols to drink. The list overwhelmingly includes popular sweet cocktails, such as Long Island iced tea, mojitos, piña coladas, margaritas, gin and tonic, and sweet white wine.
The National Kidney Foundation reports that an occasional drink or two should pose no problem in most circumstances. Alcohol affects the entire body, and it can strain the kidneys because they separate damaging substances from the blood.
The kidneys also make sure a person’s water content is balanced correctly. Alcohol is associated with dehydration and affects their ability to work correctly.
There are other ways alcohol affects the kidneys.
Having more than two drinks per day is known to increase blood pressure. People who take blood pressure medication may also be affected by alcohol because it changes how these prescriptions work.
Drinking in excess causes liver damage and disease that forces the kidneys to work harder. The liver must have a certain amount of blood to do its job, and changes can alter the ability of the kidneys to filter blood.
Certain amounts of alcohol can have an impact on the kidneys.
People who take certain medications or have certain conditions will benefit from not drinking at all.
Common signs of kidney stones, according to the Mayo Clinic, include the following:
Healthline explains that it is also common to feel kidney pain after drinking, and this could be a symptom of kidney stones. Consistent dehydration can cause pain in the kidneys and increase the chances of forming kidney stones.
Kidney stones should not be self-diagnosed. MedlinePlus states that a professional can provide answers if you suspect you have a kidney stone.
Thankfully, not all kidney stones require surgery. Basic self-care tips can help patients pass kidney stones safely and prevent them in the future.
Choose water, fruit juices, ginger ale, and lemon-lime flavored sodas. Liquid intake should allow you to urinate at least two liters every day. Cutting back on tea, coffee, and carbonated drinks that contain caffeine can help you stay hydrated. Caffeine promotes dehydration and may make it harder to maintain the right levels of water in the body.
Red meat, high salt content, and a diet high in fats could contribute to the formation of kidney stones. Eating lean meat, a diet low in fat, and less salt is recommended to pass stones.
Citrus fruits could also reduce the chance of forming kidney stones. Eating lemons and oranges is recommended. Avoiding salad dressings, ice cream, and other high-fat foods is helpful.
Not everyone can pass kidney stones without additional help. Physicians may prescribe medication that could help their patient pass stones, such as alpha blockers.
In other cases, doctors may need to perform small procedures to break up a large stone so it can pass or to remove a large stone altogether.
(May 2018) Kidney Pain After Drinking: 7 Possible Causes. Healthline. from https://www.healthline.com/health/kidney-pain-alcohol
(July 2017) Kidney stones – self-care. MedlinePlus. from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000135.htm
(July 2013) Soda and Other Beverages and the Risk of Kidney Stones. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3731916/
(July 2015) Top Five Myths About Human Kidneys. Smithsonian. from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/top-five-myths-about-human-kidneys-180956088/
(October 2013) Five steps for preventing kidney stones. Harvard Medical School. from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/5-steps-for-preventing-kidney-stones-201310046721
(September 2011) Smoking And Drinking Responsible For More Women Developing Kidney Stone. Medical News Today. from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/234190.php
Kidney Stones. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. from https://www.bidmc.org/conditions-and-treatments/kidney-liver-and-urinary/kidney-stones
(April 2018) The 9 alcoholic drinks to avoid if you want to lose weight—and what you should order instead. Independent. from https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/alcohol-diet-fat-weight-loss-cocktails-unhealthy-calories-spirits-sugar-a8311321.html
(2015) Alcohol and Your Kidneys. National Kidney Foundation. from https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/alcohol
(February 2019) Kidney Stones: Overview. Mayo Clinic. from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/kidney-stones/symptoms-causes/syc-20355755