Can Alcohol Cause Kidney Infection?

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A illustration of an alcohol and its influence on the kidney

Overview

With nearly 90% of adults consuming alcoholic beverages and 30% engaging in binge drinking, it is relevant to consider the effects of alcohol on the human body.
Alcohol can negatively impact the functions and structure of different body organs including the kidney. But if taken in moderation, alcohol can serve as a natural remedy against diseases like a kidney infection.

Kidney Infection Common Causes

The kidney plays a crucial role in the body system. It is responsible for filtering the blood and eliminating excess water and toxins out of the body in the form of urine. Acquiring kidney diseases like kidney infection can seriously have adverse and rippling effects on the body.

Kidney infection can develop when bacteria from the lower urinary tract reach and cluster in one or both kidneys. Kidneys can be infected by a variety of microorganisms –– the most common of which is Escherichia coli (E. coli). The kidney can also be infected by other microorganisms including Staphylococcus saprophyticus, Enterococcus, Klebsiella, Proteus, and Pseudomonas.

Infection-causing bacteria can also build up right in the kidney. This happens when illnesses like diabetes and kidney stone lead to severe obstruction of the urine flow. Bacteria can cluster in the trapped urine, and when left untreated, can result in infection of the organ. Kidney infection can also be a consequence of improper diet such as excessive intake of alcoholic beverages.

Profound adverse impact of alcohol on kidneys

Depending on the amount and frequency of alcohol intake, alcohol can have a profound impact on the kidneys.

Direct impact

  • Alcohol can alter the form and structure of the kidneys. A study shows that excessive alcohol intake can result in kidney swelling or enlargement, about 33% increase in its weight. The cells in the kidneys swell due to fat, water, and protein deposits.
  • Alcohol can affect the functions of the kidneys. Alcohol is a diuretic. If excessively taken, its drying effect can affect how the kidneys work, making them weak and less capable of filtering the blood and keeping the right amount of water in the body.
  • Alcohol can worsen kidney diseases like a kidney stone. This can deteriorate the kidney and make it dysfunctional, making it susceptible to infection.

Indirect but significant impact

  • Alcohol can affect blood circulation. Too much alcohol can increase blood pressure, which can then lead to kidney diseases like a kidney infection.
  • Alcohol can disrupt fluid and electrolyte balance. Because it is naturally diuretic, it can change the fluid level of the body, which has a direct impact on the concentration of electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium. One consequence of the water-electrolyte imbalance is increased number of electrolytes in the blood serum, which can then result in seizures, lethargy, and twitching.
  • Alcohol can cause diseases like cirrhosis that can eventually lead to kidney infection. If the liver cannot function normally, the kidneys have to perform harder to compensate for it. The kidneys may eventually become tired out and dysfunctional. Kidney dysfunction can lead to kidney infection because it cannot get rid of urine and other wastes properly, making itself vulnerable to bacteria buildup.

When is “too much” too much?

According to the National Kidney Foundation, excessive drinking in men is equivalent to four drinks in a day (48 ounces of beer, 20 ounces of wine, or 6 ounces of hard liquor) or more than 14 drinks per week. In women, it is equivalent to three drinks in a day (36 ounces of beer, 15 ounces of wine, or 4.5 ounces of hard liquor) or more than seven drinks per week.

Alcohol as a natural remedy

Kidney infection can be treated by killing or flushing out the bacteria that cause the infection. Patients can take antibiotics such as amoxicillin, ampicillin, and ciprofloxacin either orally or intravenously depending on the severity of the infection and the type of bacteria damaging the kidney.

Natural remedies like extra fluids can also help treat kidney infection. Natural drinks like water, fruit juices, and herbal teas can help improve urine flow, flush microorganisms out of the body, and prevent further bacteria clustering.

Alcohol, particularly wine and beer, can also serve as a natural remedy for a kidney infection and serve as diuretics like herbal teas. Alcohol, however, should be taken in moderation or it will just worsen the infection. It is best to seek medical advice first before consuming alcohol as a remedy.

Conclusion

Alcohol has a drying effect, which can either be advantageous or detrimental to kidneys. Too much alcohol intake can negatively affect the kidneys’ form, structure, and function; change the water and electrolyte balance; and worsen kidney and other diseases that can give rise to a kidney infection. But if taken in moderation, alcohol like wine and beer can be a natural remedy for the kidney infection.