Drinking Water & Your Kidneys
Water is so important for every part of your body to function. If you become dehydrated, the various systems in your body can stop working properly and you may become more prone to kidney stones and urinary tract infections (UTI’s).
Every day, the kidneys filter around 120-150 quarts of fluid. Of these, approximately 1-2 quarts are removed from the body in the form of urine, and 198 are recovered by the bloodstream. Water is essential for the kidneys to function.
If the kidneys do not function properly, waste products and excess fluid can build up inside the body.
Untreated, chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure, whereby the organs stop working, and either dialysis or kidney transplantation is required.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common type of infection in the body and account for around 8.1 million visits to health care providers in the U.S. every year.
If infections spread to the upper urinary tract, including the kidneys, permanent damage can be caused. Sudden kidney infections (acute) can be life-threatening, particularly if septicemia occurs.
Drinking plenty of water is one of the simplest ways to reduce the risk of developing a UTI and is also recommended to those who have already developed a UTI.
Kidney stones interfere with how the kidneys work and, when present, can complicate UTIs. These complicated UTIs tend to require longer periods of antibiotics to treat them, typically lasting 7-14 days.
The leading cause of kidney stones is a lack of water; they are commonly reported in people who do not drink the recommended daily amount of water. As well as complicating UTIs, research has suggested that kidney stones also increase the risk of chronic kidney disease.
In November 2014, the American College of Physicians issued new guidelines for people who have previously developed kidney stones, stating that increasing fluid intake to enable 2 liters of urination a day could decrease the risk of stone recurrence by at least half with no side effects.
Dehydration – using and losing more water than the body takes in – can also lead to an imbalance in the body’s electrolytes. Electrolytes, such as potassium, phosphate, and sodium, help carry electrical signals between cells. The levels of electrolytes in the body are kept stable by properly functioning kidneys.
When the kidneys are unable to maintain a balance in the levels of electrolytes, these electrical signals become mixed up, which can lead to seizures, involving involuntary muscle movements and loss of consciousness.
In severe cases, dehydration can also result in kidney failure, a potentially life-threatening outcome. Possible complications of chronic kidney failure include anemia, damage to the central nervous system, heart failure, and a compromised immune system.