Can Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis Patients Safely Drink Alcohol?



A viewer asked, "I'm a Dialysis patient and I have been on Hemodialysis for three years. I have avoided alcohol, but I am considering enjoying an alcoholic drink during an upcoming gathering. I am only human after all. Is it alright to have a small drink once in a while or are the risks just too severe (bad)?"

Whether it is a beer during Thanksgiving Dinner, eggnog during Christmas, champagne during New Year's Eve or another alcoholic beverage to mark a different event or festive gathering - a bevy of alcoholic drinks constantly tempt many Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients. It is pretty clear to most that patients cannot safely overconsume alcohol because it can lead to other major complications such as fluid overload, liver failure, harmful medication interactions, and in some instances death. However, many Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients still wonder if they may safely have a taste of alcohol. 

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Let's be clear, in no way does encourage or endorse patients drinking alcohol. Still, according to the Large Dialysis Organization, DaVita Inc., "Moderate alcohol drinking may be okay for people with Chronic Kidney Disease." In general, even for those on Dialysis, "drinking alcohol may be allowable, but it must be counted within your normal fluid allowance and diet, and medicines must be taken into consideration," suggested DaVita Inc. Still, in either case, patients should check with their Nephrologists or Renal Dietitians to find out if alcohol is safe for them specifically. 

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If you are able to drink alcohol safely, your Healthcare Team will advise you on the types and amounts that are right for you. The following beverages count as one alcoholic drink as defined by the United States Dietary Guidelines:

  • 12 ounces of beer or wine cooler
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (whiskey, bourbon, scotch, vodka, gin, tequila, rum)

Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients should realize that alcohol has no nutritional benefit, and it does have calories which can add up quickly. Take this into consideration when planning your holiday or event menus. Also, some medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) may interact with alcohol and cause the medicines not to work properly so check drug labels and ask your Pharmacists or Nephrologists to review your medications to make sure alcohol will not be harmful.

Recommended Reading: New Year's Eve Holiday Tips For Chronic Kidney Disease Patients Including Those On Dialysis

If you do not want to drink an alcoholic beverage, but also do not want to feel left out of the festivities then consider enjoying a cranberry juice, non-alcoholic pina colada or a flute (champagne glass) of apple cider.

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Do you indulge in an occasional alcoholic beverage from time-to-time or do you steer clear of alcohol entirely? Click here to share your answer at the Facebook Fan Page (nearly 52,000 Friends). Also, be sure to Like while you are there, and consider following the over 125,000 monthly individual visitors to for your Number One (#1) source of Daily News, Information, Impact Meals, Inspirational Quotes, and tailored Products and Services which teach Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, Kidney Transplant, Diabetes and High Blood Pressure patients how to better manage and improve their lives.  

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