Two most important causes of damage to kidney due to drugs are:
The kidney is a major organ involved in the removal of drugs and its metabolites. During the process of drug removal some drugs or its metabolites can damage the kidney.
Every minute 20% of total blood pumped by the heart (1200 ml blood) enters both kidneys for purification. Among all organs of the body, the kidney receives the highest amount of blood per kilogram weight of the organ. Because of the rich blood supply, harmful drugs and substances are delivered to the kidney in a large amount and in a short time. This can damage the kidney.
For body ache, headache, joint pain and fever, various over the counter (OTC) medicines are available and these drugs are taken freely without doctor’s prescription. These drugs are principally responsible for kidney damage.
Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are common medications used to reduce pain, fever and inflammation. These drugs include aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen, indomethacin, ketoprofen, meloxicam, mefenamic acid, nimesulide, naproxen etc.
NSAIDs are generally safe provided they are taken in correct doses under the supervision of a doctor. But it is important to remember that NSAIDs rank second to aminoglycosides as the most common cause of drug induced kidney damage.
Risk of NSAID induced kidney damage is high in cases of:
Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is a safer drug for pain compared to NSAIDs.
Since a low dose of aspirin is advised for cardiac patients, it is safe.
Yes and No.
Yes. When acute kidney damage is due to short term use of NSAIDs, it is usually reversible by stopping NSAID drugs and proper treatment.
No. Many elderly patients with joint pain need NSAIDs for a long period. When taken continuously in large doses for a long period (years) NSAID use can lead to slow and progressive kidney damage. This type of kidney damage is irreversible. Elderly patients, who need large doses of NSAIDs for a very long period, should take these medications under the guidance and supervision of a physician.
Appearance of protein in urine is the first and only clue of kidney damage due to NSAIDs. When kidney function worsens creatinine level in blood rises.
Simple measures to prevent kidney damage due to pain killers are:
Aminoglycosides are a group of antibiotics frequently used in practice and a common cause of kidney damage. Kidney damage occurs usually 7 - 10 days after the initiation of therapy. Diagnosis of this problem is often missed because volume of urine is unaltered.
The risk of aminoglycosides induced kidney damage is high in the elderly, dehydration, pre-existing kidney disease, potassium and magnesium deficiency, administration of large doses for prolonged periods, combination therapy with other drugs which can damage the kidney, sepsis, liver disease and congestive heart failure.
Measures to prevent the kidney damage due to aminoglycosides are:
Radiographic contrast media (X-ray dyes) induced kidney damage is a common cause of acute kidney failure in hospitalized patients, and is usually reversible. The risk of contrast induced kidney damage is high in the presence of diabetes, dehydration, heart failure, pre-existing kidney damage, advanced age and concurrent use of drugs that can damage the kidney.
Different measures can prevent contrast induced kidney damage. Important measures are use of smallest dose of contrast, use of non-ionic contrast agents, maintaining adequate hydration with IV fluids, and administration of sodium bicarbonate and acetylcysteine.
Other common drugs that can damage kidneys are certain antibiotics, anticancer therapy, anti-tuberculosis drugs etc.
The popular belief that all natural medicines (Ayurvedic medicines, Chinese herbs etc.) and dietary supplements are harmless is wrong.Certain medicines of these groups contain heavy metals and toxic substances which can cause damage to the kidney.Use of certain medicines of these groups can be dangerous in patients with kidney failure.Certain drugs with high potassium content can be lethal in kidney failure.