How pain medications can affect your kidneys
Always check with your doctor before taking any medication, vitamins, or supplements to ensure that it is appropriate for your situation. This article will explain the effect that some over the counter pain medications can have on our kidneys, but is in no way a recommendation to either start or stop using them.
Pain medicines are also known as "analgesics". This includes common medications such as aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen. These medications reduce blood flow to the kidneys, so many are not recommended for those with kidney disease. However, even those with normally functioning kidneys can be affected by long term use of pain medicines. However, when used carefully, kidney disease as a result of analgesics can be avoided.
This simple video explains how medicines affect our kidneys:
In summary, our kidneys filter our blood through small filters called nephrons. Nephrons depend on a certain pressure to adequately filter our blood to remove waste and excess water. Using pain medications (NSAIDs) can narrow of the blood vessel carrying blood into the kidney, and thus causing the kidney to have a lower pressure and not be able to filter as much blood.
Continued use of these painkillers can cause chronic kidney disease, which is why reading and taking them per the time frame on the bottle is essential to protecting your kidneys. They should be used exactly as prescribed on the bottle, at the lowest dosage, and for the shortest amount of time to ensure the risk of kidney damage is low. If pain or fever persists for a long time, discuss with a physician to find a medication that can deal with those issues while still preserving the health of your kidneys.
Don't be alarmed! There are ways to keep your kidneys healthy while still taking pain medications if needed. This includes:
Following the time frame for use of pain medications as listed on the bottle.
Avoid use of analgesics that combine many painkilling ingredients such as aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine.
Increase the amount of fluid you drink to avoid dehydration.
Avoid drinking alcohol.
ALWAYS DISCLOSE ALL MEDICATIONS AND CONDITIONS WITH YOUR DOCTOR! If you consult regularly with them on which medications you are taking, they can guide you to use them safely and protect your kidneys.
Remember, there are ways to keep your body and kidneys healthy without the use of medicine. Aim to prevent future complications by keeping your body healthy now. Check out previous articles on this blog for tips, and try incorporating these kidney healthy habits into your routine today!
Make healthy food choices (see previous article on kidney healthy superfoods!)
Engage in physical activity
Aim for a healthy weight
Get enough sleep (see previous article on sleep!)
Stop smoking/ Limit alcohol intake
Engage in stress reducing activities (Think yoga, meditation, writing/reading/art!)
Connect with your healthcare provider regularly
Hopefully this article helped educate you on the effect medicines can have on your kidneys. Remember to always be cautious when taking medications in any circumstance. If you learned something new from this article, be sure to share it with others!
“Pain Medicines (Analgesics).” National Kidney Foundation, 3 Feb. 2017, www.kidney.org/atoz/content/painmeds_analgesics.
“Which Drugs Are Harmful to Your Kidneys?” National Kidney Foundation, 26 July 2017, www.kidney.org/atoz/content/drugs-your-kidneys.
“OTC Medicines What People with Kidney Disease Should Know.” DaVita, www.davita.com/treatment-services/prescription/otc-medicines-what-people-with-kidney-disease-should-know.
“Preventing Chronic Kidney Disease.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 Oct. 2016, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd/prevention.