Can People with CKD Drink Alcohol?

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Here comes Summer, which to many means the beach, the pool, barbecues, and of course alcohol, LOTS of alcohol. A study found that Summer Time leads to more alcohol consumption. Alcohol is part of our lives, directly or indirectly. Some people with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) love to drink, and some love to drink a lot for many reasons, to relax, to get high, to have fun, and sometimes all three.  

In order to decide whether it is ok to drink alcohol if you have CKD, it is important to understand what adverse impact it would have on your treatment plan, if any. When it comes to drinking alcohol, for anyone who can drink it safely, moderation is the key. Drinking too much alcohol can also impair judgment—and this could interfere with decision making related to remembering to take medicines and following fluid and diet guidelines.

Moderate alcohol drinking may be okay for people with chronic kidney disease who are not on dialysis. If you are 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. Talk to your doctor or renal dietitian before you drink to find out if alcohol will have a negative impact on your health.

The federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as one drink per day for women and older people, and two drinks per day for men. The limits are different for men and women, because men usually weigh more and alcohol is processed differently by the sexes. Women tend to have a stronger reaction to alcohol. One reason is that women have less water in their bodies, so the alcohol becomes more concentrated.

The following count as one drink and each contains the same amount of alcohol:

  • 12 ounces of beer or a wine cooler
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (whiskey, bourbon, scotch, vodka, gin, tequila, rum). Mixed drinks vary in size. Most include 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

Because you have dialysis only a few hours a week (unlike a kidney that functions 24/7) the toxins alcohol puts in your body remain there for longer period of time which can increase its harmful effects. Some people with renal failure do ok periodically drinking a glass of wine, a beer, or having a mixed drink that includes no more than a shot of liquor in it. Other people are able to consume slightly more, and some cannot handle any amount of alcohol without becoming ill.

Being able to drink alcohol if you have CKD can depend on the stage of your disease, if you have other serious conditions, and whether or not your Nephrologist or dietician tells you that it is okay. If your healthcare team tells you to avoid alcohol, then do so. But if they tell you it is okay to have a drink, then strongly suggests that you closely follow their consumption guidelines.


"Is It Okay to Drink Alcohol If You Have Renal Failure?" Yahoo! Contributor Network.

"Alcohol and Chronic Kidney Disease." - DaVita.

Recommended Reading:

More Frequent Dialysis allows Kidney Patients Freedom in Diet, Misconception?
Tea can control High Blood Pressure, Preventing Cardiovascular Disease in CKD
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