If you or a loved one has pre-existing kidney issues or are concerned about alcohol consumption and kidney health, it may be time to seek professional help.
There’s nothing unhealthy about the moderate consumption of alcohol, says the National Kidney Foundation, and there are even health benefits to “one or two drinks now and then.” Drinking too much, however, causes several medical problems and can trigger the development of kidney disease.
One of the main responsibilities of the kidneys is to sift out harmful substances from the blood, and alcohol is one such substance. Small amounts of alcohol can be easily filtered and disposed of, but too much alcohol affects how the kidneys work, impairing them to the point of not being able to properly purify the blood of the alcohol content. Alcohol is capable of undoing the kidneys’ ability to filter out toxins, and while this is not usually a problem with normal drinking, it becomes a serious problem when the drinking is abusive or excessive.
Additionally, since the kidneys are responsible for keeping the right amount of water in the body, compromised kidneys cannot stop alcohol from drying out the body beyond safe levels, affecting not only the kidneys themselves, but even basic cells and organs in other systems of the body.
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 sooner you know you have kidney disease, the sooner you can make changes to protect your kidneys.