Stellen Johnson


The Unit Objective that I chose to cover is “describe the function of electrolytes and solutes and their digestion.” For my project, I decided to research alcohol’s effects on the kidneys. I chose to represent the detrimental effects that alcohol can have on a healthy kidney by making a “healthy” kidney out of clay and adding alcohol to it, ending in a damaged and unhealthy kidney.

The kidneys are responsible for regulating the concentrations of solutes and water in the body. One of the solutes most associated with the kidney are electrolytes, which include calcium, chloride, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and phosphate among others. Electrolytes are essential for the body due to the roles they play in enzyme capacity (Mg2+), physiological functions and electrolyte balance (Na+ and K+), bone (Ca2+ and HPO4 2-), metabolism (Cl- and HPO4 2-), and muscle ability (Ca2+). A severe imbalance in these electrolytes can lead to serious consequences, including paralysis, increased thirst, muscle weakness, cardiac arrhythmias, and kidney failure.

One of the ways that the kidneys maintain and regulate bodily fluids and solutes is through antidiuretic hormone (ADH), a hormone produced by the posterior pituitary gland. Antidiuretic hormone allows for water to reabsorb into the kidneys by maintaining permeability in the tubule system. The consumption of alcohol suppresses the release of ADH, which in turn causes the body to struggle with water reabsorption and form dilute urine which dehydrates the body at a faster rate from quicker fluid volume loss. I wanted to show this kidney damage non literally by displaying that an excess level of alcohol dehydrates the body (cracked clay kidneys) and damages the kidneys overall (bandage). 

Another effect of alcohol on the kidneys is acute kidney failure. Binge drinking (5 or more drinks at a time) can lead to acute kidney injury, or the inability of the kidneys to filter toxins from the body. Acute kidney injury occurs when toxins build up too fast, which can occur due to alcohol’s inhibiting effect on kidney’s filtration abilities. Repeated instances of acute kidney injury overtime have been linked to chronic kidney disease, which heavy drinkers may be at double the risk for. Kidneys also have an effect on the balance of acids and bases in the body. With the role that kidneys play in the filtration of blood, an imbalance in bodily acids and bases can be very harmful as well. Alcohol consumption can be the cause of both respiratory alkalosis and alcoholic ketoacidosis, influencing both sides of the pH scale. Respiratory alkalosis occurs due to hyperventilation leading to alcohol withdrawal, and alcoholic ketoacidosis occurs due to an excess of ketone bodies as a result of drinking little else than alcohol for extended periods of time.

All in all, there are many negative effects of alcohol on the kidneys and body overall. Some are direct, and others are indirect, though an excess of alcohol can definitely cause problems in consumers. Between dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, pH imbalance, and chronic kidney disease, there are many ways that alcohol can cause kidney damage if not consumed in moderation. 


Caldwell, K. (2022, May 23). What electrolytes does alcohol deplete? omre. Retrieved April 21, 2023, from 

Epstein M. (1997). Alcohol’s impact on kidney function. Alcohol health and research world, 21(1), 84–92.

MedlinePlus. (2016, June 20). Fluid and Electrolyte balance. MedlinePlus. Retrieved April 21, 2023, from,Move%20nutrients%20into%20your%20cells 

National Kidney Foundation Inc. (2014, August 12). Drinking alcohol affects your kidneys. National Kidney Foundation. Retrieved April 21, 2023, from,and%20organs%2C%20including%20the%20kidneys. 

Pan Cs, Ju TR, Lee CC, Chen YP, Hsu CY, et al. (2018) Alcohol use disorder tied to development of chronic kidney disease: A nationwide database analysis. PLOS ONE 13(9): e0203410.


  1. Stellen’s project showed the effects that excessive alcohol use can have on the kidneys. He expressed this by using clay models, showing that a kidney and alcohol combine to form an unhealthy, damaged kidney. The objective that he based the project off of is “describe the function of electrolytes and solutes and their digestion”, as the kidney works to regulate solutes such as electrolytes. The kidney uses antidiuretic hormone ADH (produced by the posterior pituitary gland) to absorb water, as the ADH keeps the tubules permeable. Alcohol suppresses the release of this hormone, therefore the urine produced is diluted with water and results in quick dehydration due to excess volume of urine. Also, binge drinking is bad for the kidneys because it puts them at risk of acute kidney injury or failure. When someone binge drinks (drinks 5 or more drinks in a single setting) often, toxins build up, inhibiting the kidney from properly filtering. Repeated kidney injury puts them at risk for chronic kidney disease. Another kidney function that is affected by excessive alcohol consumption is the ability to filter blood, which helps to keep bodily acids and bases in check. Overconsumption can lead to respiratory alkalosis and alcoholic ketoacidosis. Respiratory alkalosis is caused by hyperventilation, which can develop into alcohol withdrawal. Alcoholic ketoacidosis happens when an individual drinks hardly anything but alcohol for an extended period, forming too many ketone bodies. Each one of these issues that are caused by excessive drinking shows how the kidney shouldn’t be exposed to copious amounts of alcohol.

    Nolan Beeler
  2. Stellon Johnson wrote his STEAM project on how alcohol consumption affects the kidney. The median he used was clay, he made one of a healthy kidney then an unhealthy kidney that has alcohol consumption. The kidneys have an important role in regulating concentrations of solutes and water in the body. One of the main solutes in the kidney is electrolytes. Having the electrolytes be unbalanced may result in increased thirst, cardiac arrhythmias, paralysis and kidney failure. Moreover, antidiuretic hormone (ADH) is a hormone that helps the kidney regulate solutes and bodily fluids. ADH maintains water in the tubule system which allows water in the kidney to be absorbed. However, if alcohol enters the kidney, water has a difficult time with reabsorption. This results in dilute urine leading to dehydration. Alcohol also leads to acute kidney failure that comes from consistently drinking five or more drinks in one sitting. This results in acute kidney failure because the kidneys work harder to kill the toxins from the body that are growing into more. Drinking regularly while having acute kidney failure can put a person at higher risk for chronic kidney disease. Also kidneys deal with infiltration of the blood and alcohol consumption can lead to respiratory alkalosis and alcoholic ketoacidosis. Respiratory alkalosis is hyperventilation from not having alcohol and alcoholic ketoacidosis is drinking less alcohol in long periods. Overall, I learned there are many negative effects for drinking alcohol on the kidneys and body. Some of the effects from alcohol consumption are increased thirst, cardiac arrhythmias, paralysis and kidney failure.

    Ce'Anika Palacios

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