Arthritis Drugs and Kidney Disease

Do you suffer from arthritis and take over-the-counter (OTC) arthritis drugs? You could be at risk of adverse drug events.

You are not alone. The most commonly used OTC arthritis drugs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Aleve, and Naproxen. The FDA estimates that 17% of adults in the United State took Ibuprofen and 3.5% of adults took Naproxen in any given week. While these drugs are extremely effective in reducing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, they are also responsible for many adverse drug reactions, and are associated with stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, heart attacks, heart failure and liver failure.

The label instructions for use of both Ibuprofen and Aleve recommend that you consult with your physician if you take these drugs for more than 10 days for arthritis pain. It goes on to say that the drugs “temporarily relieve minor aches and pain due to----minor pain of arthritis.” I’d like to emphasize the word “temporary” and advise all with arthritis pain that these drugs are not indicated for long term use unless supervised by your physician.

According to a recent report, the use of these NSAIDs increase the risk of acute kidney injury by 50% in the general population and patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The report also estimated that the incidence of acute kidney injury doubled in patients over 50 compared to those that did not take NSAIDs.

There are many forms of acute kidney injury associated with NSAIDs including kidney failure requiring dialysis, allergic disease of the kidney, worsening of underlying chronic kidney disease, worsening high blood pressure and elevation of blood potassium levels. NSAIDs also can cause interactions with other drugs that you may be taking for other diseases. Many of these adverse drug events can be life-threatening.

I recommend that if you are interested in taking NSAIDs that you consult with your physician and review your medical history. You should avoid long term use of these agents and you should be monitored carefully while you are taking these drugs over extended periods of time.

Learn more about pain medications.

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