Thursday, March 15

Beer and kidney stones

Does beer treat kidney stones?
The answer, contravening the common belief, is that beer does not treat kidney stones. There is a general belief that consuming beer helps in preventing kidney stones (renal calculus) and treating them. In some studies, it was found that there is reduction in the formation of kidney stones when beer is consumed regularly. However it was also found that in excess drinking of beer, the oxalate and urate in the urine increase, creating potential chances for the formation of kidney calculi.

When beer or any other alcoholic beverage is consumed the water content in them increases the urine volume and any small kidney stones below 8mm size may get flushed out. Actually the water is doing the trick and if we consume large quantities of water same results can be achieved.

Contrary to the prevailing belief, persons prone to renal calculi or suffering from them should avoid beer and other alcoholic drinks as the acidic environment may induce formation and growth of kidney calculus. Though there may be a few health benefits in beer, the alcohol component, has many negative effects on liver and kidney.

Renal calculus is really a solid hard mass made up of small crystals. There are different types of kidney stones and these calculi take weeks and months to form. They are classified according to their location in the body as nephrolithiasis(kidney), ureterolithiasis (ureter), or vesicle calculus (bladder).

Depending upon their chemical composition, they may be made up of calcium phosphate, calcium oxalate, struvite, cystine or urate (uric acid). The incidence of kidney stones is common and may run in families. Men are more prone to develop the renal calculi, especially in the 25-45 year group.

Though the exact reason for their formation may not be clear, one well documented and the biggest risk factor is insufficient fluid intake. In the adults, if the urine output is less than one liter a day, there is a great risk in development of renal calculus. The common symptom of kidney stones is pain in the belly area below the ribs extending to side and back.

The pain also may manifest as groin or testicular pain. There may be other symptoms like fever, blood in urine, abnormal color of urine and nausea. The renal calculi can be easily diagnosed by abdominal CT scan or abdominal x-rays. Drinking sufficient fluids in the form of orange juice, lemon juice, beer and plain water to form at least 2 liters of urine is the best treatment for kidney stones.

If the calculus is too large to passed along urine, then hospitalization and treatment by Extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy (to break up calculus) or nephrolithotomy (open surgical removal) may be resorted to. As prevention is better than cure, kidney stones can be prevented by drinking plenty of fluids including water and not by beer alone.

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