Consuming alcohol can negatively affect both your mental and physical health. While having a glass of wine or a cocktail every now and then usually won’t cause much harm, drinking too much can take a toll on your overall health and wellness.
The NIAAA defines heavy alcohol use as more than 4 drinks on any day for men or more than 3 drinks for women. The abuse of alcohol can even affect your kidneys, ranging from conditions such as kidney stones and acute kidney failure to chronic kidney disease.
Understanding The Kidneys
To understand how alcohol affects the kidneys, one must understand the purpose of the kidneys and how they work. The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that are located just below the rib cage, with one on each side of the spine.
The main function of the kidneys is to remove waste and extra fluid from the body. The kidneys also maintain a healthy balance of water, salts, and minerals in the blood and remove acid that is produced by the cells in the body. Other functions of the kidneys include:
- Removing drugs from the body
- Activating vitamin D
- Controlling the production of red blood cells
- Maintaining electrolyte balance
- Controlling blood pressure
Alcohol and Your Kidneys
It is no surprise that excessive alcohol consumption can be harmful to a person’s health, including their kidneys. One of the main functions of the kidneys is to filter out harmful substances from the body. However, constant alcohol use can overwhelm the kidneys and reduce their ability to function. This often results in toxins being built up in the blood.
Additionally, alcohol’s dehydrating effects can negatively impact kidney functions. When drinking alcohol, the kidneys are unable to maintain normal water levels in the body, which can negatively affect other organs and cells within the body.
Many people who drink alcohol excessively have coexisting liver and kidney disease. This is because when the liver tries to break down alcohol, the chemical reaction damages its cells and leads to inflammation and scarring. Once the liver is damaged, it will not be able to maintain a healthy level of blood flow, which in turn can impair the kidneys’ ability to filter out blood.
Preventing Kidney Damage and Disease
To keep your kidneys healthy, it is important to always check with your healthcare provider to ensure it is safe for you to consume alcohol. Even if it is safe, moderation is key. At Summit Medical Clinic, we provide consultation and ongoing care for the prevention and treatment of kidney-related diseases. Schedule an appointment by calling (719) 630-1006 or visiting our website.