As we enter October, all around us are promotions for the NHS Go Sober for October, and with this in mind we want to look at the effect drinking alcohol can have on your renal system – which includes your bladder, urinary tract, and kidneys.
Well it’s great news if you’re needing a bit of extra motivation to cut down or stop drinking completely, as alcohol has been proven to dramatically affect the function of the bladder and urinary tract. Anyone who’s ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI) will know how painful these can be, and you may be surprised to learn that alcohol may have been the culprit!
Could alcohol be to blame for reoccurring UTIs?
Bacterial infections are one of the most common causes of UTI’s, but this coupled with the dehydrative properties of alcohol, along with the fact that it makes you need to urinate more often, can be the ingredients to a grim cocktail.
A study published in the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research journal, followed over 900 men aged 30 and above for an average of 28 months, with the aim of monitoring alcohol consumption and its effect on UTIs. Those consuming higher levels of alcohol were found to be contracting UTIs much more frequently.
Alcohol and your bladder
Along with the urinary tract, your bladder could suffer too. When you drink alcohol a hormone called vasopressin is released, stopping the kidneys natural response to reabsorb water into the body, and instead flushes it out through the bladder. As alcohol can dull your urge to go, urine can build up, resulting in a dangerously over-full bladder.
Your kidneys must work overtime when alcohol is consumed
It’s not only your bladder and urinary tract that could suffer during times of excessive alcohol consumption, but your kidneys may also take a beating. Your kidneys are tasked with filtering all the unwanted, unusable, and harmful substances from your blood, and with heavy alcohol usage they’ll be working overtime to rid your blood of the bad stuff. Your kidneys are also responsible for managing the amount of water retained by your body, which can be affected by alcohol. Alcohol is also likely to affect your blood pressure, meaning even as little as two drinks per day can increase your chance of high blood pressure – putting additional strain on your kidney’s.
Always drink responsibly
Excessive use of alcohol can affect your bladder, urinary tract, or kidneys. Looking after your health and limiting the amount of alcohol you drink will result in a healthier renal system, and a healthier body. So why not take on the challenge this October, your body will thank you for it!
Drink responsibly – check out Drink Aware’s website for alcohol unit guidelines and interactive tests / games to help you better understand how alcohol effects your body.