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What is Analgesic Nephropathy?

Analgesic is any medicine prescribed to numb the pain. Over-the-counter analgesics such as naproxen sodium, aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, among others, are prescribed to individuals suffering from mild to moderate pain. These drugs may not harm everyone if taken in a recommended dosage, but too many analgesics can be harmful, particularly for your liver, heart, and kidneys.

Analgesic nephropathy means damage to one or both kidneys triggered by intaking mixtures of medicines, especially over-the-counter analgesics.

The research on patients has claimed that there is an increased risk of kidney damage in those who consume analgesics more than the prescribed dosage.

The incidents of acute kidney failure are concomitant to the use of analgesics in the exceeded amount. Though other factors were also present in such patients such as systemic lupus erythematosus, advanced age, chronic illness, heart failure, cirrhosis, etc. When kidney failure occurs, a person needs immediate medical intervention such as dialysis until the emergency is over.

Analgesic nephropathy is a chronic kidney disease that can lead to end-stage renal disease later in life.

Using aspirin for a long and in recommended amount does not cause any harm or possibly leads to analgesic nephropathy.

Further, painkillers that are taken together, such as aspirin and acetaminophen, with caffeine are likely to cause impaired kidney function. Taking a single analgesic is not going to harm severely.

Risk factors include

  • The use of over-the-counter analgesics containing more than one active ingredient
  • Consuming six or more pills a day for three or subsequent years
  • Analgesics taken for chronic headaches, backaches, painful menstrual periods, or musculoskeletal pain
  • History of dependency on harmful substances like smoking, alcohol use, and excessive use of tranquilizers

What are the symptoms of analgesic nephropathy?

A person may have analgesic nephropathy without any signs and symptoms, but the damage to the kidneys is already proceeding.

In the later stages, if signs do appear, they may be like:

  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Increased urinary frequency and decreased urine output
  • Blood in the urine
  • Flank pain or pain in the back
  • Decreased alertness, including drowsiness, confusion, and lethargy
  • Decreased sensation, numbness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Swelling (edema) throughout the body, especially around the face, eyes, and legs

When to see the doctor
Consult your doctor as and when you notice the signs of analgesic nephropathy or kidney damage appearing in your body.

What are the diagnostic tests?

Your doctor will order a series of tests to examine how your kidneys are doing. During the exam, he may check if:

  • Your blood pressure and blood sugar are stable.
  • Your heart and lungs have abnormal sounds. Fluid retention will possibly cause breathing sound.
  • You have swelling.
  • Your skin shows premature aging.

Following tests he may ask for:

  • Blood count, which includes CBC
  • Urine test
  • CT scan and MRI of the kidney
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
  • Toxicology screen
  • A kidney biopsy if needed
  • Kidney ultrasound

What are the possible complications of analgesic nephropathy?

Complications that may result because of analgesic nephropathy include:

  • Acute kidney failure
  • Chronic kidney failure
  • Kidney disorder such as interstitial nephritis in which the spaces between the tubules inflames
  • Renal papillary necrosis is a condition in which part or whole of the renal papillae dies.
  • Recurring urinary tract infections
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer of the kidney or ureter

Ayurvedic treatment for analgesic nephropathy

Overconsumption of analgesics depletes the function of the kidneys and reduces their ability to function well. This allows the waste to buildup in the blood and causes multiple complications. If not treated well, analgesic nephropathy can often turn fatal later on. So it is important that you should begin your treatment right away.

Ayurveda is the best treatment for problems related to the kidneys because it strengthens kidney function keeping in mind the individual health and doshas of the body. The focus is on rejuvenation and not on the elimination of the signs only.

Consult Karma Ayurveda for more information on the same.


Disclaimer: Patients with chronic conditions that can put their kidneys at risk should check with their doctors before taking any medicine, including OTC painkillers and analgesics. We recommend them to go for an annual test to avoid life-threatening complications in the coming years. For appointments, call at our 24×7 helpline: +91-9871712050 or visit www.karmaayurvedahospital.com.

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