Can Alcohol Use Lead To Kidney Stones?
Last Updated: November 9, 2023
Although alcohol itself might not create kidney stones, it may affect your kidneys in ways that can increase your risk of kidney stones.
Using alcohol provides people a way to unwind or socialize with others; however, it comes with many downsides when used excessively. One potential complication of alcohol use is the increased risk of developing kidney stones. These painful stones form in your kidneys, potentially disrupting their normal function.
Kidney Stone Symptoms
Kidney stones can create several symptoms but almost always cause pain that can be quite severe. The main symptoms that often accompany kidney stones include:
- Severe pain: Often located in the abdomen, back or groin, pain can vary in intensity and often come in waves.
- Hematuria: Blood in the urine, which may be visible or detected through a urine test.
- Frequent urination: A frequent need to urinate, often in small amounts.
- Nausea or vomiting: These can accompany the pain as part of the body’s response to severe discomfort.
- Urinary urgency: A persistent urge to urinate.
- Foul-smelling or cloudy urine: Urine may appear cloudy and have an unpleasant odor.
By recognizing these symptoms, you can better tell when a kidney stone may develop and get medical help earlier, avoiding some of the pain and complications they can cause.
Can Alcohol Cause Kidney Stones?
Alcohol can affect how your kidneys work but is not thought to cause kidney stones directly. While alcohol itself might not create kidney stones, it can impact your kidneys in ways that could increase your overall risk of kidney stones.
How Alcohol Affects the Kidneys
Alcohol can affect kidney function by affecting the balance of fluids and electrolytes in the body. Alcohol affects your hormones in a way that increases urine production and the risk of dehydration, which is a significant risk factor for kidney stones. Additionally, heavy drinking can increase calcium levels in the urine, creating an environment conducive to the development of calcium-based kidney stones.
Other Causes & Risk Factors for Developing Kidney Stones
Several other factors beyond alcohol consumption can increase your risk of kidney stones. Being aware of these can help you prevent kidney stones or intervene early when they occur. Risk factors for kidney stones can include:
- High protein intake
- High salt intake
- High sugar intake
- Certain medications
- Certain medical conditions
- Family history
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
Foods, Beverages & Medications That Increase the Risk for Kidney Stones
Certain foods and beverages, such as those high in oxalates like spinach and high sodium foods, can increase the risk of a kidney stone. Overconsumption of proteins or high-sugar foods and drinks can also contribute to this risk. Additionally, some medications, like calcium-based antacids, can lead to the formation of kidney stones due to increased calcium levels in the urine.
Treatment for Kidney Stones
Treatment for kidney stones varies depending on the size and type of the stone. Treatment may include pain management, lifestyle modifications and, in some more serious cases, surgical intervention. Drinking plenty of water can help in passing smaller stones. Medications may be used to manage pain and relax the muscles to aid in stone passage. Larger stones might require procedures to break the stone up using sound waves or surgical removal.
Can Kidney Stones Lead To Death?
Theoretically, kidney stones could be fatal, but this would be rare. While kidney stones can be extremely painful, they are only ever dangerous if they lead to complications like infections or obstruction of the urinary tract. Even then, these complications are rarely fatal when properly managed. Prompt medical attention and management will reduce the risk of these complications and any other risks that kidney stones may bring.
Other Kidney Issues Associated With Alcohol Consumption
While alcohol use is unlikely to cause kidney stones directly, it can lead to other kidney-related issues. This may include alcoholic nephropathy, which involves damage to the kidneys due to long-term heavy drinking and high blood pressure, a leading cause of kidney disease. Other alcohol-related conditions, like liver disease, can disrupt the balance of fluids and electrolytes and affect kidney function.
Evidence-Based Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Kansas City
Alcohol might increase your risk of kidney problems, but far more serious complications can be caused by long-term, heavy alcohol use. If you have an alcohol addiction, you have an increased risk for liver disease, cancer, mental health problems and more.
Addiction can be difficult to overcome. At The Recovery Village Kansas City, we understand the struggle those with addiction face and are here to help. Our caring staff and comfortable facility will help you overcome alcohol addiction and achieve lasting sobriety. Contact us and learn how to start your journey to lasting recovery today!
MedlinePlus. “Alcohol.” March 22, 2022. Accessed September 22, 2023.
National Kidney Foundation. “Kidney Stones.” 2023. Accessed September 22, 2023.
Epstein, Murray. “Alcohol’s Impact on Kidney Function.” Alcohol Health and Research World. 1997. Accessed September 22, 2023.
Shin, Samuel; Srivastava, Aneil; & et al. “Confounding risk factors and preventative measures driving nephrolithiasis global makeup.” World Journal of Nephrology. November 24, 2018. Accessed September 22, 2023.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Treatment for Kidney Stones.” May, 2017. Accessed September 22, 2023.
National Kidney Foundation. “Drinking Alcohol Affects Your Kidneys.” August 12, 2014. Accessed September 22, 2023.