Alcohol Might be Causing Your Bathroom Misery

Alcohol has a powerful effect on your urinary tract and kidneys.


Anyone’s who had a urinary tract infection (UTI) knows that it’s irritating at best and extremely painful at worst. While dehydration and bacterial infections are two common culprits, you might be surprised to learn that frequent alcohol consumption can also cause UTIs.

Combined with the fact that drinking makes you urinate more often, you’ve got all the ingredients for a pretty miserable situation.

Urinary Tract and Alcohol

A study published last November in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research analyzed alcohol consumption data from 9,712 men ages 30 and older. After a comprehensive health evaluation, each participant was followed up on for an average of 28 months.

While light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with low UTI probability, researchers found that heavy alcohol consumption actually increases the likelihood of contracting a UTI.

Alcohol’s Effect on the Body

Urinary tract infections aren’t the only negative outcome caused by alcohol. Your kidneys are tasked with filtering harmful substances from the blood and alcohol consumption makes them work significantly harder. Heavy alcohol consumption also dries out the body, making it harder for your kidneys to keep the body adequately hydrated.

High blood pressure is a common symptom of alcoholism and one of the most prevalent causes of kidney disease. Liver disease, another common disorder related to alcoholism, impairs kidney function by preventing normal blood flow. Simply consuming as few as two drinks per day increases your chances of developing both high blood pressure and liver disease.

What Happens After Breaking the Seal?

Another result of alcohol consumption is the constant urge to urinate.

Drinking alcohol reduces the production of a hormone called vasopressin, which ultimately halts the kidney’s natural response to reabsorb water and instead flushes it out through the bladder. Once you make that first trip to the bathroom, you’ve effectively “broken the seal” and the frequent urination kicks in.

“Alcohol is a diuretic,” says Professor Oliver James, head of clinical medical sciences at Newcastle University. “It acts on the kidneys to make you pee out much more than you take in – which is why you need to go to the toilet so often when you drink.”

Contrary to popular belief, drinking light beer or a beverage with low alcohol content won’t fix the problem. The diuretic action of the alcohol itself is what causes the urge to frequently urinate.

If you regularly abuse alcohol, it’s nearly impossible to avoid UTIs. In fact, the only foolproof method is to avoid drinking altogether.  In the end, your body (and bladder) will thank you.


Learn more about what you can do to help an alcoholic loved one.