Everyone experiences pain, and consequently, painkillers have become a part of everyday life. And although many people assume that over-the-counter pain relievers are safe because they’re easily accessible, abusing these medications can cause serious health problems down the line. Some common medications like ibuprofen and naproxen are known to even cause kidney problems. But how is ibuprofen bad for kidneys when so many people rely on this medication to manage pain? Keep reading to learn more about safe ibuprofen usage.
What is Ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen is a common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that can help ease pain and inflammation. Some common uses for ibuprofen include headaches, dental pain, menstrual cramps, muscle aches, arthritis, and more. It works by temporarily inhibiting your body’s ability to produce substances that cause inflammation, subsequently helping to reduce swelling, pain, and fever.
How Can Medication Damage the Kidneys?
Your kidneys function as your body’s filter, ridding the body of toxins and waste while returning nutrients, vitamins, hormones, and other vital substances to the bloodstream. And because the kidneys receive such heavy volumes of your bloodstream, they are susceptible to damage caused by diabetes and high blood pressure. However, inappropriate medication use can also cause kidney damage.
When you take pain medication, your kidneys filter their active ingredients into your bloodstream so that they can begin working to ease your symptoms. But because medications like Ibuprofen block body chemicals that cause the blood vessels to dilate, this results in reduced blood flow to the kidneys; reducing the blood flow helps stop pain from headaches and other afflictions, but it also means less oxygen passing through to keep the kidneys healthy and functioning properly. Some medications also cause excess water retention, which can put considerable strain on the kidneys. For people suffering from medical conditions like chronic kidney disease, NSAIDs can increase the risk of kidney failure.
Is Tylenol or Ibuprofen Worse for Your Kidneys?
Unlike Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs, the active ingredient in Tylenol (acetaminophen) does not cause damage to the kidneys. In fact, the National Kidney Foundation recommends acetaminophen as the pain reliever of choice for occasional use in patients who have underlying kidney disease.
Although NSAIDs are more likely to cause kidney issues, Ibuprofen can still be used as long as it is not taken in excess. Unless otherwise directed by your physician, you should be just fine using Ibuprofen for occasional pain relief.
Is It Bad to Take Ibuprofen Every Day?
If you are suffering from an injury or illness, it’s perfectly acceptable to take Ibuprofen as directed for a few days in a row. However, regardless of whether or not you are prone to kidney problems, you should not take the medication every day indefinitely unless prescribed by your doctor. Not only can it cause kidney damage, but excessive Ibuprofen intake can also cause mild nausea, stomach ulcers, and more.
What Pain Relievers Are Safe for Kidneys?
Generally speaking, all pain relievers are “safe” for kidneys when used as directed on the bottle or by your doctor. But if you have kidney failure or are predisposed to kidney problems, then it may be in your best interest to avoid it altogether. Stick to medications like Tylenol, Midol, and Excedrin, which use acetaminophen as their active ingredient to play it safe.
How to Recognize Kidney Failure
If you suspect that you have misused Ibuprofen and may be experiencing reduced kidney function or kidney failure as a result, here are some symptoms to look for:
- Changes in urination
- Swelling in the legs, feet, or hands
- Shortness of breath
- Back pain
- Puffiness around the eyes
- High blood pressure
Visit Village Emergency Centers Today
Kidney damage can be scary, but Village Emergency Centers are here to help. If you are wondering is Ibuprofen bad for kidneys, visit one of our locations near you. With little to no wait time, you’ll receive the quality treatment you deserve quickly. Our board-certified doctors are ready to serve you! Contact us today to learn more.