Alcohol and Kidney Stones: Can Drinking Cause Them?

Last Updated: February 14, 2024

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

When it comes to your health, understanding the impact of your lifestyle choices is crucial. Kidney stones are a painful condition that can affect your health and inhibit your ability to function. It is essential to understand the connection between kidney stones and alcohol abuse and the impact that using alcohol can have on your kidneys.

Kidney Stone Symptoms

Kidney stones can cause extreme pain that can be debilitating; however, there are several symptoms they can cause. These include: 

  • Pain – Flank pain that is sharp and comes in waves is typical with kidney stones.
  • Hematuria – Blood may be visible in the urine, and it may have a pink hue.
  • Frequent urination – You may need to urinate more often than usual.
  • Nausea and vomiting – The pain can lead to feeling nauseated and possibly vomiting.

Diagnosing kidney stones requires a doctor. If you think you have kidney stones, you should seek medical advice and help.

Can Alcohol Cause Kidney Stones?

Alcohol can play a factor in causing kidney stones, but typically only does so when you drink heavily. Moderate drinking is not likely to directly cause kidney stones and, in some cases, might even have a protective effect due to its diuretic properties, which can help flush out small crystals before they consolidate into stones. Excessive alcohol use, however, can lead to conditions like dehydration and high blood pressure, known risk factors for kidney stone formation.

How Alcohol Affects the Kidneys

Alcohol, especially when consumed in excess, can have a profound impact on your kidneys. It can disrupt the balance of fluids and electrolytes in your body, leading to dehydration, a condition promoting kidney stones’ development. Additionally, chronic alcohol consumption can elevate blood pressure levels, which, in turn, can stress the kidneys and contribute to stone formation.

Other Causes & Risk Factors for Developing Kidney Stones

While alcohol is a potential risk factor for developing kidney stones, several other elements can also contribute. A sodium, protein, or sugar-rich diet can increase the concentration of stone-forming substances in urine. Medical conditions like obesity, urinary tract infections, and certain medications can also play a significant role in developing kidney stones. Preventing kidney stones not only involves moderating your alcohol use but also making healthy lifestyle choices in general.

Foods, Beverages, & Medications That Increase the Risk for Kidney Stones

Certain foods, beverages, and medications can elevate your risk of developing kidney stones. For example, consuming foods high in oxalates like spinach and nuts and drinks like soda can contribute to stone formation. Additionally, some medications, like calcium-based antacids, can increase the risk, so discussing your medical history and dietary habits with your healthcare provider to identify any potential concerns is essential. A doctor can best advise you on how to adjust your diet specifically to avoid the risk of kidney stones.

Treatment for Kidney Stones

When treating kidney stones, you should seek professional medical advice to get your needed help. Your doctor’s approach will likely vary based on the size and type of the stone. Small stones might pass independently, requiring you to stay well-hydrated and take pain medications. However, larger stones might necessitate medical intervention, such as shock wave lithotripsy or surgery, to remove or break them down.

Can Kidney Stones Lead to Death? 

While kidney stones are almost only associated with discomfort and pain, in rare cases, they can lead to more severe complications. Kidney stones can cause infections or obstruct the urinary tract if left untreated, leading to kidney damage or failure. It is essential to address kidney stone symptoms promptly and seek professional medical advice to prevent complications from occurring.

Other Kidney Issues Associated with Alcohol Consumption

Beyond kidney stones, excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to other kidney-related issues. Chronic drinking can cause conditions like alcoholic nephropathy, where the kidneys struggle to filter blood properly, leading to kidney damage. Additionally, alcohol abuse can increase the risk of kidney infections and chronic kidney disease, conditions that can lead to long-term kidney issues.

Evidence-Based Alcohol Addiction Treatment in South Jersey

At The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper Drug and Alcohol Rehab, we are committed to helping people control their alcohol use and live their healthiest lives. If you are struggling with alcohol addiction, we understand what you are going through and how to help you successfully break free from addiction. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve lasting freedom from addiction.

Sources

MedlinePlus. “Alcohol.” March 22, 2022. Accessed September 28, 2023.

National Kidney Foundation. “Kidney Stones.” 2023. Accessed September 28, 2023.

National Kidney Foundation. “Drinking Alcohol Affects Your Kidneys.” August 12, 2014. Accessed September 28, 2023.

Epstein, Murray. “Alcohol’s Impact on Kidney Function.” Alcohol Health and Research World. 1997. Accessed September 28, 2023.

Urology Care Foundation. “What are Kidney Stones?” 2023. Accessed September 28, 2023.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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