Pain medications like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen, also known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are commonly used by people across America every day. People can use them to quell a headache, reduce swelling from minor injuries, or reduce fevers. Doctors may even prescribe stronger versions of these medicines to control pain after serious injuries.
However, these commonplace medications can have side effects that impact your kidneys’ health and ability to function, especially for individuals who already have reduced kidney function. So, what anti-inflammatory or pain-reducing medications are the safest for kidneys? Let’s take a look.
What Anti-Inflammatories Can You Take If You Have Chronic Kidney Disease?
Most physicians and nephrologists will recommend that patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) avoid using NSAIDs and use acetaminophen instead. This is because NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can prevent the proper amount of blood from reaching the kidneys, limiting the amount of oxygen that reaches the kidneys and ultimately damaging the kidneys and their ability to function.
Although it is not an anti-inflammatory, acetaminophen is widely regarded as one of the safest pain-relief medicines for individuals with chronic kidney disease or other kidney-related health concerns. A common over-the-counter acetaminophen brand is Tylenol. Generic brands are also available at most stores and pharmacies, but it’s always important to read your drug labels carefully to ensure you’re taking the right medication. Other brands and types of acetaminophen medications exist, and your doctor may prescribe extra-strength versions.
Remember that each individual’s health is different, so a medication that’s right for someone else may not be suitable for you. If you have chronic kidney disease or another health condition, such as heart disease, you should always consult with your physician and nephrologist before taking medications.
Regardless of the pain reliever you end up using, be sure to follow the directions listed on the packaging and any additional instructions you have received from your physician or nephrologist. Most pain-relief medications recommend using them for no longer than 10 days for treating pain or three days for treating a fever.
Is Tylenol or Ibuprofen Worse for Your Kidneys?
Generally, ibuprofen tends to be worse for kidneys than Tylenol or other acetaminophen-based medications.
For individuals in good health, NSAIDs like ibuprofen aren’t likely to damage their kidneys unless they take them for a prolonged period or in a large dose. If you have healthy kidneys and you take an NSAID for a prolonged period, you could experience interstitial nephritis, a disorder resulting in reduced kidney function, although this typically reverses if it is caused mainly by medication.
However, if you are already struggling with CKD, NSAIDs can severely damage your kidneys by preventing them from receiving the oxygen they need. If you have CKD, you may still be able to take a low-dosage of an NSAID, particularly to help control your risk for heart attack, with minimal impact on your kidneys. However, each individual’s health is different. If you have reduced kidney function, you should always consult with your physician and nephrologist before pursuing an aspirin regimen or using an NSAID.
What Alternatives Are There to NSAIDs?
Individuals with CKD or other kidney-related health concerns may seek alternatives to NSAIDs for pain relief and reducing inflammation. Aside from acetaminophen, you may wish to consult with your physician about the following options:
Southeast Wisconsin’s Kidney Health Specialists
Protecting your kidney health isn’t always glamorous or straightforward, but it’s always important. If you have questions about managing pain with chronic kidney disease or reduced kidney function, turn to Milwaukee Nephrologists for answers. To learn more about what pain-relief and anti-inflammatory medications are right for your health needs, contact Milwaukee Nephrologists today.
The information in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult with medical professionals before taking medications.