Chronic Dehydration and Kidney Function Kidney Stones Urinary Tract Infections

The kidney’s function in the body is to maintain the water balance and remove waste products. According to the National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse at the National Institute of health, the kidneys filter the blood, processing about 200 quarts of blood and removing 2 quarts of extra water and waste products. The removed water and waste become urine. The proper functioning of the kidney depends on the flow of blood. Dehydration will affect the amount of blood in the body.

The kidneys can handle excess water better than they can handle too little water. During dehydration stress, the kidneys can concentrate the urine to four (4) times as concentrated as the blood. This means that at least half a liter is needed to create our daily urine output.

Dehydration is caused by taking in less fluid than the body loses each day. Benjamin Wadro, MD lists three ways the body gives off water: breathing, sweating, and urine production. Each person must take in enough fluid to replace that given off to maintain healthy body functioning. A person weighing between 150-200 lbs would need to drink 65-70 ounces of water.

Effect of Dehydration on the Kidneys

Urinary tract infections:

Those individuals who chronically drink small amounts of liquid and cause themselves mild dehydration are at higher risk for urinary tract infections. The flow of urine through the body pushes bacteria out. The normal rate of urine production keeps bacteria at a steady level. When you reduce the production of urine by dehydration, the bacteria have a chance to multiply and create an infection.

Kidney Infections can also be at greater risk. As the bacteria multiply, they can move up the urinary tract and reach the kidneys. Once this happens, the kidneys are at risk of damage and scarring.

Kidney stones

One result of dehydration is the formation of kidney stones. Any reduction in fluid intake can result in the formation of stones (urolithiasis). As you decrease the amount of fluid available to make urine, you reach the point where minerals can form crystals. These crystals are what cause kidney stones. Kidney stones are not only painful to pass, but can cause cuts in the tissue of the urinary tract.

Renal Failure

The ultimate outcome of dehydration for the kidneys is failure. The kidneys can stop working in the face of low blood pressure. The amount of blood in the body can be decreased in dehydration. This reduced blood level results in decreased blood pressure. The kidneys depend on the flow of blood in the body to filter waste. They cannot do their job if the blood is moving slowly.


The kidneys provide an important function to the body. They regulate the amount of water. Since our bodies are mostly water (60%), this regulatory function is critical to our health. Stressing the system by chronic dehydration causes the kidneys to work harder. Any time you ask a machine to work harder, you risk the machine’s failure. The human body functions as a complex machine. The easiest thing that you can do is to make sure that you are drinking enough water to keep your body at peak performance. Drink your water.