Muscle pain or joint pain is a common health issue. To reduce pain and swelling, we use analgesics – such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen.

One must take care and pay attention while using painkillers as regular usage of painkillers is not without risks. Excessive use of painkillers can cause kidney disease which may not be reversible.

It is called Analgesic nephropathy. It can lead to severe kidney disease, but this condition is preventable.

Do you know?

The medicines that you use to get rid of your pain can prove detrimental to your kidneys. If you use over-the-counter and prescription pills for a long time or in excess, then they can damage your kidneys.

The risk is the same in both men and women.

In many cases, symptoms are often mild, or most of the time, you will not have any symptoms of kidney disease

The condition is detected only by doing blood tests or urine tests.

The buildup of waste products and toxins in the late stages of kidney disease can lead to the symptoms.

A short course of painkillers can also sudden changes in kidney functions which if detected early can be reversible with treatment

Who is at increased risk?

Everyone is at risk. But, anyone with pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease, and those with a single kidney, a history of smoking, or excess alcohol intake will be at increased risk of developing kidney disease.

Symptoms of Analgesic nephropathy

  • Decreased urine output
  • Hematuria (Blood in urine)
  • Feeling unwell (weakness or fatigue)
  • Back pain (in the area where kidneys are located)
  • Drowsiness, decreased alertness, confusion or lethargy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Edema (widespread swelling)

Diagnosis of analgesic nephropathy

Your nephrologist will record your medical history and do a physical examination based on the symptoms. The doctor will order urine tests, blood tests, and ultrasound /CT scans.

Treatment of analgesic nephropathy

The main aim or objective of the treatment is to prevent further kidney damage, treat existing kidney failure, and prevent it from progressing further. To ensure this, your nephrologist will instruct you to stop all painkillers that you are taking, advise some dietary changes, and prescribe medicines.

Bottom Line

If you have decreased kidney function avoid using analgesics because painkillers (analgesics) reduce blood flow to the kidneys and make your kidney functions worse

Excessive use of painkillers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen has been linked to chronic kidney disease and kidney failure. With advancing age and preexisting kidney disease, the risk of kidney damage increases manifolds.

Don’t delay in seeking medical care especially when you experience the symptoms of analgesic nephropathy. Many people tend to ignore or pay less attention to the signs and symptoms often assuming those symptoms to be due to other health conditions. In some cases, there are no symptoms at all.