If you are someone who pops up painkillers frequently, then you must stop doing so, right now. The pills that you are taking to lower your pain can damage your body. Yes, according to the experts, long-term use of over-the-counter painkillers is leading to kidney damage among people. Today, on the occasion of World Kidney Day, let's understand in what ways you are damaging the kidneys without even realising and how you must take care of this important organ of the body.
Your kidneys are the most important part of your urinary tract (system). The two kidneys in your body help in flushing out the toxins in the form of urine. Today, on March 10, we celebrate World Kidney Day to run campaigns against the ways one is damaging this organ and how one should keep it protected. This day is aimed at raising awareness about the importance of our kidneys.
Those Painkillers That You're Taking Can Damage Your Kidneys
Many painkillers are sold without a prescription for reducing pain and inflammation. These include Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, and naproxen. A combination of drugs, including aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine, are also easily available and commonly taken by patients for chronic headaches and backaches.
Talking about the problems that painkillers can cause to the kidneys, Dr. Manju Aggarwal, Chief - Medical Services & Chairperson - Nephrology at Artemis Hospital, Gurugram said, "Not many people realise it, but long-term use of analgesics (painkillers) can lead to a condition called analgesic neuropathy which causes kidney damage. Painkillers don't harm the kidneys in healthy individuals if taken occasionally. However, taking them too often for a prolonged period, especially as a combination of drugs, can cause severe kidney damage".
Painkillers Can Lead To Acute Kidney Injury
He further added that the threat is even greater in high-risk individuals such as the elderly, diabetics, and patients with high blood pressure. Their kidneys can get damaged with even the occasional use of painkillers. Experts also cautioned that over-the-counter painkillers can also lead to kidney damage in many ways, including an acute rise in creatinine levels, known as Acute Kidney Injury. There can also be worsening of pre-existing Chronic Kidney Disease in terms of rising creatinine levels.
Painkillers Can Spike Potassium Levels
Painkillers can also cause a rise in potassium levels in the body. Most patients remain asymptomatic in the early stages of kidney disease and the raised creatinine is an incidental finding. However, in advanced forms of the disease, there can be breathlessness, vomiting, loss of appetite, and swelling all over the body.
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The doctor said that prevention is always better than cure, so judicious use of painkillers is advised. These should be taken if absolutely necessary. "Patients with known kidney disease or those at risk of kidney disease such as the elderly and diabetics should avoid pain killers totally. They should instead switch to paracetamol or opioids for pain control," Aggarwal said. "If you are taking painkillers regularly and find that your creatinine level is raised, discontinue their use and see a nephrologist immediately," he advised.