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Dr. Phil, MD
Dr. Phil, MD, Medical Doctor
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Experience:  Medical Doctor Trained at a Top Academic Institution
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Why do I get kidney pain when I drink coffee or use an e-cigarette I

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Why do I get kidney pain when I drink coffee or use an e-cigarette?

I get streptococcus-related glomerulnephritis on and off due to recurrent strep throat (planning a tonsillectomy in a few months to help with this) and have a GFR of >60. I always get kidney pain when I drink coffee or green tea, and also when I use an e-cigarette (I don't get the pain with real cigarettes or the patch, so I don't think it's the nicotine).

My questions are:
1 - Why do I get the pain when I drink coffee or green tea, or use an e-cigarette?
2 - How exactly do the above cause kidney pain for someone with glomerulnephritis?
3 - Does anything that cause kidney pain mean it is hurting or damaging the kidneys? Or is it just a sign that the kidneys are inflamed? e.g. I use Piracetam to study, and with higher doses I get the same pain.
4- Should anything that causes kidney pain be avoided? I can take the pain if it's harmless, but if it's harmful then my kidneys are more important.

Regarding the e-cigarette:
I use a VG based (Vegetable Glycerin) e-cigarette liquid as opposed to the commonly used PG based (Propylene Glycol) liquid. According to the research reports I've read, PG has been linked to renal toxicity, while there is nothing about VG. In fact, VG is one of the ingredients of a kidney cleanse recipe in a book by Dr. Hulda Clark, so I'm confused.

A thorough answer would be appreciated. A detailed answer will be given a bonus.

Hello. My goal is to help you find an answer!


Let me get some more info about the pain.


1)Where exactly is it?


2)Does it come on instantly? I.E. What is the time course after smoking or drinking the tea/coffee?


3)How long does it last?


4)Any other symptoms with it?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

1) The pain is in the flank area, but I feel it more in the front and the sides. The pain in the back is very dull and feels like a pressure. The pain in the front is sharp and is duller in the sides. It's also constant and doesn't come in waves.

2) With coffee/tea it comes on about 30 minutes after drinking. With an e-cigarette it comes on within 10 minutes.

3) With coffee/tea, the pain lasts between 2-3 hours. With the e-cigarette it can last the same or longer depending on how much I inhale but no more than 6 hours.

4) No other symptoms, except for nausea with the e-cigarette when I inhale too much but that could be the nicotine (the patch gives me nausea).

Here are the ingredients on the e-cigarette's liquid bottle if it helps:
<2.6% v/v Nicotine, (97%) Aqueous V/Glycerol, E/Maltol (2-ethyl-3-hydroxy-4-pyrone), Ethanol <4% v/v, Deionized Water, (1R, 2S, 5R)-(-)-Menthol, Other <3%
Are you 100% positive that it ONLY comes after coffee/tea and e cig? Or could it be a coincidence?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
No, I also get the same pain when I have a throat infection, but it lasts for days at a time and the severity fluctuates during the day. But I am 100% positive that it always comes after coffee/tea and e-cig unless I have very small amounts.

The kidney pain after coffee/tea started happening when I started getting recurrent throat infection 3 years ago. As for the e-cig, I only started using it a year ago.

I am 24 female in case it's not listed.

I see. Well, I have never heard of this but I NEVER rule things out. Most people know their own bodies pretty well. I would have to give you my assumption or "educated guess" if you will as to why this happens. My theory is as follows.


1)you have chronic inflammation in the kidney from recurrent glomerulonephritis.


2)Green tea and coffee contain caffeine which is a diuretic/blood vessel constrictor. E cig contains nicotine which constricts blood vessels. My supposition is that these substances put extra "pressure" on the kidney to work. Constriction of blood vessels and a diuretic effect put pressure on the kidney to work. With this chronic inflammation, the extra "pressure" causes you pain.


This makes sense logically unfortunately there is little data to back it up. Hope this helps!


Oh and this is also assuming the urogenital tract (ureters and bladder are clear) because the same principle would hold true. If you are urinating more from the chemicals and there is a blockage like a stone this could cause pain.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks. Yes, that does make sense, because I get the pain (but much milder) when I drink cocoa which also has a diuretic effect on me.

So, would it be advisable to avoid these substances? I am a non-smoker and only use nicotine for studying for its effects on concentration, however stopping caffeine completely might be hard as I need the study aid, so would it be harmless to drink coffee/tea occasionally if it causes pain?

Also, what do you suggest taking or avoiding to help with the kidney inflammation (besides antibiotics to help with the infection and avoiding NSAID's)?

You're welcome. Yes, that does make sense with the cocoa.


I would probably avoid them as much as possible.


The key is to help stop recurrent glomerulonephritis. In time this may decrease the inflammation and stop this problem all together.


Occassionally would probably be okay but I would limit as much as you can.


I would avoid foods that are rich in potassium, oxalate and sugar as this may be hard on the kidney. I would also be sure to drink a lot of water to keep them flush.


You may want to try drinking water prior to coffee and or tea and see if it helps counteract the diuretic effect. I would give that a try.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I've never heard of drinking water prior to coffee/tea to counteract the diuretic effect. Do you mean it would help with the frequent urination (how does that work?!), or that it would help reduce the pressure on the kidneys?

I know about sugar and oxalates being hard on the kidneys but didn't know about potassium. Good info.

You're very welcome. I am happy to help.


It was just an idea. That possibly increasing the blood volume and blood flow to the kidneys by drinking water would help counteract the diuretic and dehydration effect of the caffeine. It may work and it definitely won't hurt you!

Dr. Phil, MD, Medical Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 51761
Experience: Medical Doctor Trained at a Top Academic Institution
Dr. Phil, MD and 7 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
That's a good idea. I will keep it in mind next time I have to drink coffee or tea.

Thanks for being very thorough in answering my questions. I will be sure to leave a positive feedback.
you're very welcome. take care.

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