Can Alcohol Cause Kidney Stones?

Jan 2021 Can Alcohol Cause Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are known for the intense pain they can cause. Kidney stones develop when there’s too much waste material and not enough liquid. Together, these two end up forming crystals (which are known as “stones” in this case). While there are many causes of kidney stones, drugs like alcohol can contribute directly to the formation of kidney stones. There is an indirect connection between alcohol and kidney stones (among other health effects).

Alcohol and Kidney StonesAlcohol abuse and addiction are known to contribute to a variety of negative health effects and diseases. Over time, alcoholism can begin to take a toll on a person’s mind, social life, and body. So can alcohol cause kidney stones? While the answer may not be as easy as yes or no, alcoholism has direct effects on the formation of kidney stones. Kidney stones are just one of the many possible effects of constant alcohol/drug use. 

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism, it may be time to get help. Rehab centers like Phoenix Rising are here to help you overcome your addiction and live a better life. No matter how far into addiction you may be, it is never too late to get help. Turn your life around today at Phoenix Rising Recovery. 

What Are Kidney Stones?

A kidney stone is characterized as a hard object (crystals) that are formed from chemicals in a person’s urine. These can be extremely painful and come with other symptoms like chills and a fever. There are four different kinds of kidney stones, these are:

  • Calcium Oxalate
  • Uric Acid
  • Struvite
  • Cystine

Urine on its own has several different types of waste dissolved in it. When there is too much water and not enough liquid, crystals can begin to form. These crystals are referred to as the “stones” of a kidney stone. The crystal begins to attract other elements that end up creating a solid (which can be troublesome to pass through the body). A healthy kidney can wash out these chemicals before a kidney stone can occur. These crystals can be formed by chemicals like calcium, urate, cystine, xanthine, oxalate, and phosphate. 

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people go to emergency rooms due to kidney stone issues. Research shows that almost 1 in 10 people will experience a kidney stone at least once in their life. Different methods are used to treat kidney stones (shockwave lithotripsy, ureteroscopy, nephrolithotripsy, and other methods). 

What Causes Kidney Stones?

There is a wide range of different reasons why a person may be prone to kidney stones. This can include:

  • Not drinking enough water
  • Exercising too much or too little
  • Eating foods with too much sugar or salt
  • Obesity
  • Weight loss surgery
  • Genetics

These are just a few of the possible reasons why a person may experience a kidney stone. When it comes to alcohol and kidney stones, there is a possible relationship between the two factors. Alcohol (specifically beer or grain alcohol) contains certain elements that can directly cause kidney stones in some cases. 

The 4 Types of Kidney Stones

As mentioned, there are actually four different types of kidney stones. Each can be caused by various factors and can differ in symptoms and severity. It can be important to know what kind of kidney stone you or a loved one is dealing with. Let’s take a closer look at each of the different kinds of kidney stones and why they occur. 

Calcium Oxalate

Calcium oxalate is the most common type of kidney stone. This form of kidney stone is typically a result of calcium combining with oxalate in the urine. Calcium oxalate is usually caused by a severe lack of calcium. It can also occur if a person is not getting enough water in their systems. 

alcohol and kidney stonesUric Acid

Like calcium oxalate, uric acid is a common form of kidney stone. Organ meats and shellfish have high concentrations of purines. Purines are chemical compounds and can lead to Uric acid kidney stones. Purine intake results in higher production of monosodium urate, which can end up forming stones (in certain conditions). It’s not uncommon to see this form of kidney stones run through certain families.

Some forms of alcohol (specifically beer) have a high concentration of purines. This can result in the formation of kidney stones after alcohol usage. This is why alcohol and kidney stones may be more related than many think.  


Struvite kidney stones are less common than the previous types. This type of kidney stone typically emerges from infections in the upper urinary tract. As with all forms of kidney stones, these can be very painful and uncomfortable for the person.   


Cystine stones are much rarer than the other kinds of kidney stones and can be re-occurring. Cystine kidney stones occur due to a rare disorder “cystinuria.” This condition occurs when there is too much cystine in the urine. This results in the formation of a kidney stone. These stones are usually co-occurring and can get stuck in the kidneys, other parts of the urinary tract, and the bladder. 

The Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Even the smallest forms of kidney stones, the size of a grain of rice, can be very painful. Not only are kidney stones extremely distressing but they can lead to other noticeable symptoms. These specific symptoms tend to appear once a stone creates any kind of blockage or irritation in the body. Some of the common symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Cloudy urine appearance
  • Blood in urine
  • Intense pain in the lower back region
  • Constant stomach pain
  • Urine that smells bad

If you notice any of these symptoms be sure to get medical attention immediately. It’s best if a kidney stone is detected sooner rather than later. Leaving kidney stones untreated can eventually lead to chronic kidney disease or worse. Don’t hesitate to reach out for medical help if you notice any of these signs. 

Alcoholalcohol and kidney stones and Kidney Stones

Even though there is no direct causality between alcoholism and kidney stones, alcohol still has an impact on the formation of kidney stones. Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol frequently increases the risk of kidney stones substantially. Beer and grain alcohol can cause kidney stones due to their high concentration of purines. Purines are chemical compounds that can lead to uric acid kidney stones. It’s because of this risk that creates a connection between alcohol and kidney stones. 

Excessively drinking alcohol can also lead to severe dehydration, which is one of the many reasons behind stone formation in the kidney. Calcium oxalate stones in particular can form when someone is dehydrated. Consistently drinking alcohol can create a pattern of dehydration while increasing the chance of kidney stones. 

Another factor can also be obesity and weight gain. Regardless of whether it is mild or severe, this alone can increase a person’s chance of kidney stones. In the topic of alcohol and kidney stones, alcohol can end up leading to weight gain and may evolve into obesity. This creates a massive risk of kidney stones down the line (if left untreated). 

Consuming too much alcohol puts someone at a high risk of stone formation; however, drinking a moderate amount can be beneficial. Strangely, white wine, red wine, and some kinds of beer can actually reduce a person’s risk of kidney stones. While this can be seen as a positive some may abuse alcohol at an excessive rate (which can lead to alcohol use disorder and alcoholism). 

The Answer: Can Alcohol Cause Kidney Stones?

As it stands, there isn’t a direct causality between alcohol and kidney stones. However, certain aspects of excessive alcohol consumption can easily lead to the formation of kidney stones. Over time, alcoholism can end up wreaking havoc on the body and the mind. Through kidney stones, disease, mental health problems, financial problems, and other negative effects. 

While some cases of kidney stones may run through the family, there are things you can do to reduce the risk. To prevent kidney stones the goal is to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water every day. Additionally, eating greens and fruit can reduce the risk while balancing acid levels in your body. 

Getting Addiction Help at Phoenix Rising

Even with the indirect relationship between alcohol and kidney stones, many other factors can affect the body. Every year, thousands of people silently suffer from the effects of alcoholism and alcohol use disorder (AUD). If left untreated, these can cause severe consequences on a person’s life and body. Professional and comprehensive treatment is recommended for these cases. 

Whether you or a loved one is suffering from addiction or alcoholism, now is the time to get help. We offer many different forms of treatment with you in mind. At Phoenix Rising, we make sure your journey is comfortable and effective from start to finish. There is a life free of drugs waiting for you and we want to help you get there today. Contact us today to learn about all our treatment options and resources.