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Kidneys are essential to your overall health, serving multiple essential functions such as:
If your kidneys stop working properly, a build-up of harmful toxins and waste products can occur. This can lead to various side effects and dangerous conditions.
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Urine consists of dissolved salts and minerals that are waste byproducts of cell metabolism. Typically, your kidneys filter these salts and minerals out of your body through urine.
If your kidneys can't filter out these minerals, the build-up leads to kidney stones. A kidney stone can be as small as a grain of sand, but they can become large enough to block urine flow. This can make it difficult to urinate without experiencing severe pain.
Although they're not life-threatening, kidney stones can be extremely painful. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to prevent infection. Such cases include people with:
There are four main types of kidney stones:
Some people are at higher risk due to genetic factors, such as family history. If you have had a kidney stone before, there is an increased chance another may develop later.
However, there are two main reasons kidney stones may develop: dehydration and diet.
Dehydration results in low urine volume. The lack of fluid in the urine causes it to turn dark and concentrated. This means salt minerals don't dissolve easily and form kidney stones.
Factors that affect dehydration include:
On the other hand, highly acidic urine causes the formation of calcium oxalate and uric acid stones. This is mainly caused by dietary factors such as:
The most prominent symptom of kidney stones is severe pain and cramping in the back and sides. This pain often moves to the abdomen and groin, coming and going in waves as your body tries to remove the stone.
Other symptoms may include:
The purpose of the kidneys is to filter waste from the body, and proper water intake is required. Alcohol dehydrates you, which makes it difficult for this to happen. On top of that, alcohol has a significant amount of toxins, which also strains kidneys.
This is one reason you may feel pain after a having a drink. The best way to avoid this pain is to drink plenty of water after drinking.
Alcohol does not directly cause kidney stones. However, excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of developing kidney stones in several ways. The most common way this happens is through dehydration.
Other factors associated with excessive alcohol use, such as weight gain and poor diet, can be risk factors for kidney stones. Alcohol is a source of weight gain because it has empty calories.
If you already have kidney stones, drinking alcohol may worsen your condition. Drinking alcohol can cause kidney stones to move around faster, causing increased pain.
Scientists believe alcohol-related kidney stones may occur due to alcohol being a diuretic. This makes you more likely to urinate. It may also reduce the kidney stone risk associated with low urine output.
However, the results of some studies are contradictory. Some claim that alcohol-induced diuresis can worsen kidney stones.
The best way to prevent kidney stones from alcohol include:1
Alcohol use disorder (AUD), also known as alcoholism, increases your risk for kidney stones in several ways. Aside from dehydration, intoxication can weaken your kidneys' effectiveness at filtering waste.
Also, alcoholic drinks such as beer contain a substance called purines. Purines are the building blocks of uric acid, increasing the risk of developing uric acid stones. In addition, heavy drinking is associated with poor diet and obesity, two risk factors for kidney stones.
Alcohol-related or not, kidney stones have several treatment options. Depending on their size, you can simply pass them when you urinate.
If it is too large or painful to pass naturally, you may need to seek advanced medical care. There are surgeries available to help you pass the stones, these include:
Symptoms of AUD include:
If you feel any of these symptoms, it may be time to get help from an addiction treatment professional.
There are a variety of resources available for those suffering from AUD. Mental health treatment approaches such as behavioral therapy can address underlying behaviors that drive some people to drink.
Mutual support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can provide a strong support network for those in addiction treatment for alcohol misuse.
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