How does alcohol cause dehydration?

How does alcohol cause dehydration?
May 26, 2021

Q: How does alcohol cause dehydration?—Glenn, Park City, Utah

A: Dehydration occurs when your body loses fluid and electrolytes; common symptoms include fatigue, headache and confusion, and prolonged dehydration may result in more serious health complications. Alcohol causes dehydration because it is a diuretic, which means it increases the excretion of water from the body (you may have noticed that you need to use the restroom more frequently when drinking wine, beer or spirits). Part of what makes alcohol a diuretic is that it inhibits vasopressin, an antidiuretic hormone that regulates the kidneys' ability to reabsorb and retain water.

"By inhibiting or blocking [vasopressin], [alcohol consumption] leads to less water retention … exacerbating that dehydration effect," says Dr. Larry Nolan, a primary care sports medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. "Incorporate water before, during and after [alcohol] consumption to help combat that water and electrolyte loss."

Dr. Nolan also advises patients to take note of their surroundings and how they may impact dehydration: Warmer temperatures and higher altitudes can cause the body to lose fluids more quickly. Consult your physician about making wine a part of your healthy and active lifestyle.—Shawn Zylberberg

Q & A Health Sports

You Might Also Like

I've heard that kids in Europe are sometimes served a watered-down glass of wine with dinner. What are the risks of children consuming small amounts of alcohol?

I've heard that kids in Europe are sometimes served a watered-down glass of wine with dinner. What are the risks of children consuming small amounts of alcohol?

Many countries in Europe and around the world have relatively permissive attitudes …

Aug 3, 2022
I’ve heard that carbonated drinks can cause osteoporosis. Is sparkling wine bad for bones too?

I’ve heard that carbonated drinks can cause osteoporosis. Is sparkling wine bad for bones too?

The scientific literature on carbonated drinks and bone health can be confusing, and …

Jul 20, 2022
Are there any yeast-free wines? Can I drink wine if I have a yeast allergy?

Are there any yeast-free wines? Can I drink wine if I have a yeast allergy?

Yeast is essential to the alcoholic fermentation that turns grape juice into wine, but it …

Jul 6, 2022
How does alcohol intoxication cause “glassy” eyes?

How does alcohol intoxication cause “glassy” eyes?

Glassy or glossy eyes—eyes that look glazed over, shiny and unfocused—are often associated …

Jun 22, 2022
My dog tries to drink from unattended wineglasses. What happens when pets consume wine?

My dog tries to drink from unattended wineglasses. What happens when pets consume wine?

Here at Wine Spectator , we love dogs, especially the canine companions who help in the …

Jun 8, 2022
Can wine and cannabis be consumed together safely?

Can wine and cannabis be consumed together safely?

As social attitudes and legal restrictions around marijuana have loosened in recent years, …

May 25, 2022