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Should people with Kidney Disease take Alcohol?

July 15, 2019

Alcohol in moderation

AskAwayHealth clinician Dr Sylvia Kama-Kieghe considers what advice to provide people with kidney disease about Alcohol use.

If someone has been diagnosed with Kidney disease, is it safe for them to have Alcohol?

Know the units in your drink. Recommended quantity for healthy men and women is not more than 14 units per weeks
Know the units in your drink. Recommended quantity for healthy men and women is not more than 14 units per weeks

One of the functions of the Kidney:

We know that the Kidneys are one of the organs that filter toxic, waste substances out of the body.

Given the nature of Alcohol, the Kidneys of heavy drinkers have to work harder to filter toxic by-products.

If someone already has Kidney disease, continuing to drink alcohol regularly and in excess amounts can make it worse.

Alcohol can damage the kidneys so they can’t filter the bad material out of the body thereby causing serious illhealth.

Using alcohol inappropriately can also cause harm to other organs including the kidneys.

Alcohol use contributes to dehydration – a condition which also worsens kidney function.

Alcohol concentration effects

Now, the toxic effects of alcohol applies to all types – there’s no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ type.

Instead, we should consider Alcohol concentration in the different types of alcoholic drinks.

Some drinks have higher alcohol content than others.

Taking spirits that have high alcohol content is more likely to cause damage than lower alcohol content.

It will happen faster though both will cause damage eventually if used excessively.

So the key point that will determine the answer is – how severe is the kidney disease?
Doctors usually grade kidney disease depending on the extent of damage to the kidneys limiting its normal function.

If the degree of damage is classed as mild by the doctor, patients may have very restricted quantities on occasion.

This could be an important social event and not regular drinks at home or in bars/pubs.

It’s always important to be aware of the units in Alcohol consumed.

People who have kidney disease should not indulge in regular daily drinking or binge drinking.

This will reduce further kidney damage and prevent problems like high blood pressure and other possible complications – heart failure; liver damage etc.

If an individual has severe Kidney disease, then he should avoid Alcohol consumption.

The kidneys simply do not have the capacity to remove wastes effectively and accumulating toxic substances contribute to further complications.

All people with conditions like this should have specific discussions with their own clinicians.

This will cover important lifestyle practices they should maintain to prevent the risk of complications.

This shows the types of alcohol by their strength - beer has got weakest strength and hard liquor /spirits is highest
This shows the types of alcohol by their strength – beer has got the ‘weakest’ strength and hard liquor /spirits is highest

Learn more about alcohol effects here.

Edited by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly through

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