• Shruti GOCHHWAL

Does Beer Really Help Pass Kidney Stones?

Who doesn’t like pouring themself a tall glass of beer at the end of a long day? There aren’t many better ways to destress yourself after all! But can your favourite brew also be your favourite medicine?

You may have heard someone being asked to drink beer if they are dealing with kidney stones. Today, we find out how legit that claim is. But first, let’s learn more about those pesky kidney stones.

Kidney Stones

A kidney stone is a painful medical condition.

Renal calculi, or kidney stones, are hard masses of crystals. They are usually formed in your kidneys. However, they can originate anywhere along your urinary tract.

Stones are generally formed when your urine is concentrated, making minerals crystallize and stick together.

Excess body weight, diet, medical conditions, and certain supplements are among the many causes of kidney stones.

Symptoms

Kidney stones usually don’t cause symptoms until it moves within your kidney or passes into your ureters, the tubes connecting the bladder and kidneys.

Caption: Severe Stomach pain is a common sign of kidney stone. Credits: Pxfuel

If it stays in the ureters, it can block the flow of urine and cause the ureter to spasm and the kidney to swell, which can be very painful.

In addition, you may experience these symptoms:

  1. Pain in the back and side

  2. Pain in the groin and abdomen

  3. Fluctuating pain

  4. Burning sensation while urinating

Other signs include:

  1. Red, pink, or brown urine

  2. Foul-smelling urine

  3. Persistent urinating

  4. Vomiting and nausea

  5. Fever

Pain caused by a kidney stone may fluctuate while shifting to a different location through your urinary tract.

Untreated kidney stones can increase the risk of chronic kidney disease.

Passing of Kidney Stones

Stones usually take multiple weeks to a few months to pass, based on the size and number of stones.

Pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil) can help ease the discomfort until the stones pass.

You can also take an alpha-blocker, which loosens the muscles in the ureter and helps pass stones easily and with minimal pain.

However, if the stones are too large to pass, or if the pain becomes too severe, they can be surgically removed through ureteroscopy.

Here, a small endoscope is passed up the ureter while you are under general anaesthesia. A laser breaks the stones, and they are removed

Alcohol and Kidney Stones

Kidneys filter harmful substances like alcohol. Alcohol contains a high purine content, a chemical which forms kidney stones and uric acid.

Uric acid is generally released from the body in the form of urine, however, the presence of excessive purines can cause the acid to accumulate and thus result in a kidney stone.

When you consume too much alcohol, the performance of the kidneys get compromised, and they cannot flush out the purine. It then gets collected in the kidneys, resulting in kidney stones.

Caption: Can beer limit the risk of kidney stone? Credits:  Pxfuel

People have different theories about beer and kidney stones, as to whether it can be helpful to pass kidney stones, or rather harmful.

A study on beverages and their impact on kidney stones was conducted. Researchers studied 194,095 people over eight years.

This study was conducted to observe any correlation between the type of fluid people drank, the quantity of the fluid they drank, and its effect on kidney stones.

At its completion, 4,462 people had a kidney stone at one point or another.

A point to be noted is that none of these people had a history of kidney stones.

Researchers found that sugar-based fruit punch, colas and non-colas, increased the risk of kidney stones, up to 33 per cent.

Further, beer, caffeinated and decaf coffee, red and white wine, tea and orange juice reduced the risk of kidney stones significantly.

Beer reduced the risk of kidney stones up to 41 per cent, and similarly wine up to 33 per cent.

Thus, based on this study, drinks like beer and wine can help prevent kidney stones!

Wine breaks down into beneficial antioxidants. However, they should be consumed with certain moderation, like any beverage you consume.

You can drink the recommended 12 ounces a day for beer and five ounces a day for wine.

If you drink in excess, it may cause kidney issues that can lead to dehydration, which is one of the biggest reasons for kidney stones.

Due to dehydration, calcium oxalate stones can form, leading to the formation of crystals.

Drinking excessive beer, also means that you’re putting on a lot of empty calories, that can lead to weight gain. Being obese or overweight are also causes of kidney stones.

What If You Already Have Kidney Stones?

And now for the part you’ve been waiting for!

In the unfortunate event that you get kidney stones, can beer help you pass them? The short answer is yes.

Beer is a diuretic, which means it promotes urine production. If you drink beer, you tend to urinate a lot and this could help flush out your kidney stones, especially if they are less than 4.5 mm in size.

By drinking more water and limited beer everyday, you can clear some of the uric acid and the crystals that are present in your kidneys. It can also help prevent dehydration in the body.

However, bigger stones could be too much of a challenge for beer. A bigger kidney stone can block and cause damage to your kidneys, as the ureter can only stretch to 5 mm.

All in all, it is wise to have more water and moderate amounts of beer to help pass your kidney stones.

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