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Kidney Disease: Medicines to Avoid

Topic Overview

Many medicines may impair kidney function and cause kidney damage. And if your kidneys aren't working well, medicines can build up in your body. If you have chronic kidney disease, your doctor may advise you to continue to take a medicine but may change how much you take. Or you may change to a different medicine. Don't stop taking any prescription medicines without talking to your doctor first.

It is important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal products that you take. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

Some examples of common medicines that may need to be avoided, adjusted, or changed:

  • Pain medicines, including:
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen. NSAIDs can reduce the flow of blood to your kidneys. NSAIDs are also found in medicines for fever, colds and coughs, and sleep problems.
    • Acetaminophen and aspirin may be harmful if overused. They are usually safe in small amounts.
  • Herbal supplements, which can contain minerals like potassium that are harmful for people who have kidney disease. Many herbs can interact with prescription medicines. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before you take herbal products.
  • Statin medicines, such as atorvastatin, lovastatin, and simvastatin, for high cholesterol.
  • Diabetes medicines, including insulin and metformin.
  • Heartburn and upset-stomach medicines, such as Milk of Magnesia and Alka-Seltzer. These medicines can affect your electrolytes.
  • Antimicrobial medicines, including some antibiotics, anti-fungal, and antiviral medicines.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Tushar J. Vachharajani, MD, FASN, FACP - Nephrology
Last Revised August 29, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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