Have you been experiencing kidney pain after drinking alcohol? Is your body trying to tell you something? Could kidney disease be the reason? If you have been asking yourself all these questions lately, then this WellnessKeen article would probably help you get some answers.
Did You Know?
“Heavy drinking on a regular basis has been found to double the risk for kidney disease.” Also, “Most patients in the United States who have both liver disease and associated kidney dysfunction are alcohol dependent.”
― National Kidney Foundation
Drinking alcohol may be the most enjoyable way of passing time with friends, or even alone, but then, this time-pass activity can also prove to be costing you your health. Think about it, if you have been drinking a lot lately, or continuously over the past few years, don’t you feel that your body (and your mind) has started giving you hints that it is getting a bit too much? Don’t you sense that hesitation at the back of your mind, telling you that perhaps you should give it a hold? Don’t you feel weaker, drained, and sense that your body’s resistance towards alcohol has lowered down in comparison? We can go on and on with the signs and symptoms that your body tends to give when alcohol consumption is pushed too far, but for now, let’s stick to one of the signs―kidney pain.
Kidneys play a vital role in keeping the body free from unwanted substances by filtering those out in the form of urine. Alcohol is one among these unwanted substances. Alcohol is a recreational drink which provides no substantial nutrition to the body, but yes, it definitely dehydrates the tissues and accumulates calories. If the alcohol intake is way too much, it ends up impairing the kidney function, thereby causing pain. The nature of this pain usually varies, and is often experienced in the upper back. However, it is not uncommon to experience back pain or flank pain due to reasons associated with the kidney.
What Causes Kidney Pain After Drinking Alcohol
You have had this problem for a while now, and you have also been to your doctor for the same. Your reports are normal; your doctor says that your liver, kidneys, pancreas, etc., seem to be okay. However, as soon as you start drinking again, the pain is back. After a drinking session, it’s pretty intense, sharp, and even excruciating at nights; but even when you stop, a dull pain remains for quite some time, extending to a few days, to weeks, or even months, in some cases. What could all this mean? To determine why the pain arises, it is crucial to understand the effects of alcohol on kidney functioning.
- Kidneys are not only confined to the filtration of waste materials, but they also help in keeping the body well hydrated. The kidneys can handle alcohol in limited amounts, perhaps a drink or two occasionally would be quite okay. However, when the level of alcohol becomes too much in the blood, the kidneys are compelled to work harder than normal to filter it, resulting in excessive passage of urine, which eventually leads to dehydration. When this happens, the reduced water levels affect the functioning of not only the kidneys, but also other organs and cells of the body.
- The kidneys use the antidiuretic hormone (ADH) to control the fluid amounts excreted in the urine, hence keeping a balance between the water levels released and absorbed by the body. However, alcohol suppresses the release of this hormone into the blood, thereby causing dehydration, and eventually an impairment in the kidney function, which may cause pain.
- The formation of high amounts of urine can actually affect the renal pelvis (a funnel through which urine flows into the ureter) and cause pain. Oftentimes, you will notice the pain subsiding as soon as urine is passed.
- Alcohol-induced dehydration may trigger the formation of kidney stones. The risk doubles when you consume fatty meals that lack fiber, and lead a sedentary lifestyle. If these stones are already present, then the excessive formation of urine may lead to rapid movement of these stones, thereby causing kidney pain.
- Alcoholism is one of the main causes of liver disease, which, in turn, can affect the functioning of the kidneys. Liver impairment can alter the rate of blood flow to the kidneys, which needs to be balanced to filter the blood efficaciously. Therefore, those with liver disease may experience pain or discomfort while preferring the fondness towards the bottle over their physical health.
- A condition known as Pelviureteric Junction (PUJ) Obstruction, which can occur due to a birth defect, or develop at a later stage in life, can be attributed to kidney pain after drinking alcohol. This is because PUJ obstruction tends to block the renal pelvis, thereby instigating flank pain or back pain. Alcohol tends to increase the intensity of pain in this case.
Alcohol is directly and directly linked with many chronic health conditions, which may prove to be fatal if not catered to, in time! An example for the same in reference to the kidneys would be the fact that alcohol triggers high blood pressure in the body, which in turn leads to kidney disease. Many of us have heard all these alcohol-related warnings a zillion times, but we tend to get alarmed only when we experience the discomfort ourselves. Sad.
How Can Kidney Pain be Prevented
The pain is nothing but your body telling you that you have crossed the limit, and it’s getting beyond control now. Just give it a break, perhaps a permanent one. If your kidneys pain after drinking alcohol, then all you need to do is to stop drinking. It is as simple, and as difficult, as that. We understand that it is almost impossible for alcoholics to ‘just stop’. In that case, we would highly recommend to seek the help of professionals. Perhaps joining a rehab and/or seeking counseling from groups such as ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ would help you get your life back on track and eliminate the pain―both physically and emotionally. There are many cases where hardcore alcoholics have dealt with their addiction with a strong will and determination, and have overcome alcoholism. If they can do it, why can’t you?
For those who are heavy drinkers but not alcoholics yet, minimize, or rather eliminate, drinking alcohol and substitute it by consuming a lot of water and healthy fruit juices. Staying well hydrated is crucial to revive your body from the dehydrating aftereffects of alcohol abuse. As mentioned earlier, the pain may linger on even after you stop drinking. Get yourself checked by a trusted physician, explaining him/her all the symptoms and discomfort that you are experiencing, and seek proper diagnosis and treatment.
It is not necessary that you have to be a binge drinker or an alcoholic to experience such alarming symptoms. There are many instances where occasional drinkers are also affected by such issues. Just do what your body wants you to do―listen to it. You have known what it is to drink alcohol and get high, you have known what it is to drink without keeping a tab and do some crazy stuff under its influence, and now, you have also come to realize how it is proving to be a hazard to your health. Control your drinking habits as per the doctor’s advice. If you’re an alcoholic, do all in your power to stop before the bottle drinks you down. It’s difficult, but not impossible. Take care.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Kindly consult a trusted physician for accurate diagnosis.