Why Does Alcohol Dehydrate You?

Why Does Alcohol Dehydrate You?

“I’ll stay for just one.” How many times have we said or heard this? Alcohol remains a year-round staple attached to everything from social gatherings and seasonal celebrations, to that of simply unwinding, and whilst it’s commonly attached to ‘having a good time’, overindulgence can often lead to a lesser discussed side effect—dehydration. This article further explores the truth behind your tipple, presenting a better understanding on its effects and the importance of staying hydrated whilst drinking alcohol.


Alcohol's Impact on the Body's Hydration


Simply put, consuming alcohol affects the body's ability to maintain optimal hydration levels. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases the production of urine, and when released, leads to an accelerated loss of fluids and electrolytes—both essential for maintaining healthy hydration levels.


The Science Behind the Diuretic Effect of Alcohol


As outlined above, the main reason for frequent urination is the effect alcohol has on your kidneys.

Key to keeping fluid in check, kidneys filter our blood and produce urine. The result of alcohol then entering the bloodstream disrupts the fluid particle balance that is, before consuming alcohol, typically stable. In addition, alcohol stops a hormone called ADH (Anti-Diuretic Hormone) from working effectively. This hormone assists your kidneys to regulate how much water is in your body. When ADH levels are low, kidneys release more water, leading to increased urination and resulting in dehydration.

Although alcohol has diuretic effects, there are several factors that can influence how much it makes you urinate. These include: alcohol strength (a beer compared to a spirit); the frequency of alcohol consumption; and how much water has been consumed before.

Recognising the Signs of Dehydration Due to Alcohol


Dehydration from alcohol can manifest in various ways, and recognising the signs is crucial:

Common Symptoms of Dehydration from Alcohol

  • Thirst or Dry Mouth: these are early signs indicating that your body needs more water.
  • Headache: dehydration is often a cause and alcohol consumption can make symptoms worse.
  • Fatigue: alcohol can disrupt sleep and, coupled with dehydration, lead to heightened fatigue.
  • Dark Urine: a clear indicator of dehydration is urine that is darker than usual.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol-Induced Dehydration

  • Kidneys: not drinking enough water can make the kidneys work harder, especially when they are already busy processing alcohol. Continuous consumption can lead to chronic complications.
  • Skin: dehydration can affect the skin, for example its elasticity, leading to premature aging and dryness.
  • Electrolyte Imbalance: repeated dehydration can lead to an imbalance of electrolytes which play a crucial role for many bodily functions.

Balancing Alcohol Consumption with Hydration

The word ‘moderate’ is commonly played out when it comes to alcohol consumption, including packaging and advertising. Defining ‘moderate consumption’ typically refers to guidance that outlines recommended alcohol intake. For the US, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states that men should not consume more than two drinks per day, whilst women shouldn’t exceed one.

In addition to being mindful of alcohol consumption, there are a number of tips that can support you remain hydrated whilst and after enjoying a drink:

  • Hydrate Before Drinking: pre-hydrating can help mitigate the dehydrating effects of alcohol.
  • Water Break: for every alcoholic drink, counter its effects with a glass of water. This helps maintain hydration and reduce overall alcohol intake.
  • Wise Choice: opt for low or alcohol-free alternatives, or even something from our Microdrink Collection.
  • Replenish Fluids and Electrolytes: the morning after, focus on rehydrating with water and drinks that replenish electrolytes, like our Microlyte Collection.
  • Avoid Caffeine: caffeinated beverages can exacerbate dehydration, so it's best to avoid them after drinking alcohol—so no reaching for that morning coffee.




The saying “everything in moderation” is an apt fit for what this article has discussed. Alcohol can be consumed and enjoyed, but it’s essential to be responsible and mindful when it comes to how much is consumed, and how frequently. Here’s to balanced living. Bottom’s up!