Can Alcohol Cause Blood in Urine

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Alcohol is not a direct cause of blood in the urine, also referred to as hematuria. However, long-term, heavy alcohol use can lead to kidney damage and cause kidney disease, resulting in blood excreted through urine. If you have a pre-existing health condition incompatible with excessive alcohol use, avoiding alcohol altogether might be your best option. Every time you drink alcohol, you may put your kidneys, liver, pancreas, and other body parts in danger.

If you find it challenging to control your drinking despite possible health risks, you might have an alcohol use disorder. At Guardian Recovery, we can develop a clinical care plan appropriate for you and your unique needs and circumstances. To learn more about our custom-tailored alcohol addiction programs, contact us today.

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Causes of Blood in Urine

Finding blood in your urine can be a frightening and unpleasant experience. Although this is not usually a cause for panic, hematuria can signify a severe condition like an infection. If you can see the blood, which can be red, pink, or cola-colored, this is called gross hematuria, and you should contact your doctor promptly. Blood that is invisible to the naked eye is known as microscopic hematuria and is usually only detectable through a urine test. In any case, identifying the cause of hematuria is imperative.

Causes of Blood in Urine Include:

  • UTI or kidney infection
  • Bladder or kidney stones
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Kidney, bladder, or prostate cancer
  • Kidney, prostate, or urinary tract irritation or swelling
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Blood clots or diseases that cause them

Hematuria can also be caused by menstruation or sexual activity, which are entirely benign.

The Kidneys’ Role

The kidneys are essential organs that require very little attention unless they become damaged or begin to fail.

According to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), the kidneys have many critical responsibilities.

Functions of the Kidneys Include:

  • Removing toxins and waste by filtering the blood
  • Activating vitamin D for bone health
  • Regulating the volume of body fluids
  • Controlling PH levels and balancing blood minerals and electrolytes, such as phosphorus, potassium, and sodium
  • Stabilizing and regulating blood pressure
  • Releasing the hormone erythropoietin (EPO) that regulates the body’s production of red blood cells

 

How Alcohol Use Affects the Kidneys & Leads to Blood in Urine

Alcohol is one of the many toxins the kidneys filter from the blood. Alcohol undermines the kidneys’ toxin-filtering abilities, therefore setting the stage for damage and an increased risk of many health problems. In general, the kidneys of heavy drinkers are forced to work harder. While an occasional drink is unlikely to cause problems, binge drinking or chronic drinking can wreak havoc on the kidneys. 

By Causing Dehydration

As noted, the kidneys also regulate bodily fluid. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect that can significantly impair the kidneys’ ability to maintain proper fluid balance. Also, water helps the kidneys remove waste from the blood. Without sufficient water, that waste, as well as acids, can accumulate. This can result in the kidneys being clogged with myoglobin. An excessive amount of these proteins can damage the kidneys and even lead to acute renal failure.

Dehydration can also result in kidney stones and urinary tract infections, both of which are associated with blood in the urine.

By Increasing Blood Pressure

Another damaging effect of excessive alcohol use on the kidneys is increased blood pressure. Heavy alcohol use can lead to temporary or persistent blood pressure increases. (4) Eventually, this can result in chronic high blood pressure, one of the most common causes of kidney disease. Heavy drinkers may be more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who drink moderately or abstain. Some blood pressure medications, such as alpha-blockers, beta-blockers, and diuretics, can also be affected by alcohol.

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By Causing Liver Disease

Also, it’s been well-established that there long-term drinking increases the risk of developing liver disease. The kidneys require a sufficient blood flow maintained at a specific level to filter the blood correctly. Among alcoholics and those with liver disease, this balance is disrupted. The incidence of kidney failure in association with acute liver failure ranges from 40%-85%, depending on the cause. In some individuals with liver cirrhosis, particularly alcoholics, “the presence of cardiomyopathy and heart failure may further render them susceptible to renal compromise…” . In fact, most U.S. patients diagnosed with liver disease and kidney dysfunction are alcohol-dependent.

By Causing Kidney Disease

While there are several other possible causes of chronic kidney disease, damage to kidneys, especially from heavy, long-term alcohol use, can contribute to a significant decline in a person’s overall health and quality of life. For example, a five-year study of Australian adults who self-reported as moderate or heavy drinkers concluded that excessive drinking, in particular, was “a significant modifiable risk factor for the development of albuminuria.”

Albumin is an essential protein found in the blood that helps build muscle, repair tissue, and prevent infection. Having albumin in the urine is also known as albuminuria. Very little or no albumin should be excreted through urine when the kidneys function correctly.

But if the kidneys are damaged, protein can leak out into the urine and may be an early indicator of kidney disease. Moreover, once chronic kidney disease develops, it can adversely impact nearly every body part.

Possible Chronic Kidney Disease Complications Include:

  • Anemia
  • Bone weakness and fractures
  • Nervous system damage 
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • End-stage kidney disease
  • Immune response impairment and infection
  • Retention of fluid, causing swelling
  • Hyperkalemia, elevated blood potassium levels that can compromise the heart’s function
  • Pericarditis, or inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart
  • Sexual issues, including decreased libido and erectile dysfunction

Limiting Alcohol Use Can Improve Urinary Health

Reducing alcohol consumption can reduce your risk of kidney damage and finding blood in your urine. This can have many health benefits, including:

Health Benefits of Reduced Alcohol Use Include:

  • Improved kidney functioning and reduced risk of kidney damage and failure
  • Improved liver health and lower risk of liver disease
  • Reduced risk of several cancers, including those involving the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, colon, and rectum
  • Reduced risk of developing alcohol dependence

Finding blood in your urine can be alarming, but there is a reasonable chance it’s only a temporary issue. If you experience this issue, call your health provider so they can help you determine its cause.

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The best solution to protect your kidneys and other vital organs from the damaging effects of chronic alcohol use is to stop drinking as soon as possible. If you suspect you have an alcohol use disorder, we urge you to seek professional treatment as soon as possible.

Guardian Recovery Center offers integrated treatment for alcohol use disorder and inpatient, partial-hospitalization, and intensive outpatient programs that address the effects of alcohol dependence on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Our programs feature psychotherapy, group therapy, and other evidence-based services that are highly beneficial for recovery.  

Our highly-trained addiction professionals are committed to providing those we treat with the tools and support needed for recovery and fostering long-lasting wellness and sobriety. Our main priority is ensuring you receive the help you need promptly. Please contact us today for a free, no-obligation health benefits check and to learn more. We look forward to speaking with you soon. 

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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