How certain medications could affect your kidneys

How certain medications could affect your kidneys


There are many reasons why kidneys can fail. Usually, we are able to spot certain habits that could definitely damage your kidneys. However, just a few of us are able to relate kidney failure with the consumption of certain medications, such as acetaminophen.

Many individuals may wonder about this matter, arguing that acetaminophen is actually a painkiller, therefore, it should not bring pain to your body. The truth is that this drug –and every other drug- is a chemical product induced to the body to treat a health condition. As the chemical substances drugs are, they can damage your kidney in tremendous ways.

Actually, studies have shown that drugs cause one-fifth of the kidney failure episodes in hospitals. These episodes are especially common among older people, who have more chances than younger people to develop this kind of problems. In fact, at least 66% of the elder adults who are hospitalized tend to suffer from kidney failure.

Related: How To Keep Your Kidneys Healthy

The kidney failure caused by the consumption of medication is known as nephrotoxicity. But, what does this really mean?

In this article, Joe Cosgrove will talk about this condition and why medications can actually damage your kidneys, especially when you grow older.

Defining “Nephrotoxicity”

Nephrotoxicity is the permanent or temporary kidney condition caused by the exposition to certain medications or the elevated consumption of them. It is also called renal toxicity, and it is caused when toxic substances present in medications are processed through the kidneys.

In a high concentration, chemicals present in medications can poison the kidneys making them unable to work properly. This, inevitably, leads to kidney failure caused by nephrotoxicity.

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Nephrotoxicity can be easily detected when certain components of your blood start to change, such as creatinine. However, if this condition is not detected at an early stage, it can cause a severe damage and permanent kidney issues.

Drugs that cause Nephrotoxicity

Acetaminophen: Taken in a controlled manner and under regular circumstances, acetaminophen won’t do much harm to your body. Nevertheless, when patients are hospitalized, or consume high levels of this medication, they have higher chances of developing nephrotoxicity induced by acetaminophen.

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This happens because acetaminophen is metabolized via the liver’s reactions. After passing through the liver, chemical substances flown along the body in the form of soluble substances that are filtered by the kidneys. When considerable loads of acetaminophen are consumed, the both the liver and the kidneys will need to do some extra work to cope with the chemicals present in them.

The higher the intake of chemicals, the more prone patients are to develop nephrotoxicity due to acetaminophen poisoning.

Antibiotics: Just as acetaminophen, there are some antibiotics that can also cause kidney failure due to nephrotoxicity. The substances derived of the metabolization of antibiotics travel through the blood torrent until they reach the kidneys and need to be filtered. There, waste in the shape of harmful chemical substances could cause severe damage.

Others: Other types of medication that could cause nephrotoxicity are listed below. It is recommended to read this list prior the consumption of any medication. Also, if someone in your family has ever developed allergies or nephrotoxicity, keep in mind that for the rest of your life, you will need to check the health of your kidneys periodically.

  1. Analgesics: Aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs (nonsteroidal), painkillers, and naproxen.
  2. Antiviral medications: Ritonavir and tenofovir (both used to treat HIV), and, acyclovir (used to treat herpes).
  3. Anticonvulsants: such as trimethadione and phenytoin.
  4. High blood pressure medications: among the most common, you can find Ramipril, Angiotensin, captopril, Lisinopril, and valsartan or candesartan. These last two are receptor blockers.
  5. Bipolar disorder treatments: the only medication listed here that could damage the kidneys is Lithium.
  6. Chemotherapy medications and treatment: here we can find drugs like bevacizumab, mitomycin C, carboplatin, pamidronate, cisplatin, cyclosporine, methotrexate, quinine, interferons, tacrolimus, cisplatin, and carboplatin.

What else could cause nephrotoxicity?

Medications are not the only chemical substances that could affect your kidneys causing you nephrotoxicity. Illegal drugs are some of the most harmful agents that could cause any individual a kidney failure.

This is probably more understandable since most of us are able to relate illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine or amphetamines with terrible side effects and body deterioration. However, not many people know that the chemicals released during the metabolization process will be also filtered by the kidneys. This can cause both of them to fail due to poisoning.

Another substance created by humans that can drastically affect your kidneys is alcohol. Despite the fact that this is one of the legal drugs that most people can consume, alcohol is not good for your kidneys. As a matter of fact, it is not good to any part of your body.

It is always recommended to drink with moderation or quit alcohol. Otherwise, you will be exposing yourself to a kidney injury or failure.

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