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How safe are NSAIDs for people with kidney disease?

NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, should generally be avoided by people with kidney disease as they can cause further damage to the kidneys. NSAIDs include over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, so people with kidney disease should be cautious when self-treating with these medications. It is important for people with kidney disease to have their doctor give them guidance on their medication use.
If you have decreased kidney function, certain types of pain medications, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), are not recommended because they reduce blood flow to the kidneys.

Since most NSAIDs are referred to only by brand or generic name, many people may not know they are taking this type of medication, or may take more than one NSAID at a time. About 23 million Americans use nonprescription (over-the-counter) NSAIDs every day.

What to do: Speak up and ask questions in your doctor’s office and at the pharmacy. People with kidney problems need to be particularly cautious about NSAIDs. Talking to your doctor can help prevent damage to the kidneys.

Doctors recognize the value of NSAIDs to relieve pain. Fear of side effects should not prevent people from taking NSAIDs, since untreated pain can become a serious health issue. Know the facts and be informed to make choices that are best for you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.