U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Medicines and Kidney Disease: What You Need to Know

Recently, on our Make the Kidney Connection Facebook page, we asked our kidney champion community how they keep track of their medicines. We received many responses that ranged from using pillboxes, keeping a printed list in easy to find locations around the house and in a wallet, to relying on technologically savvy ways, such as downloaded applications on smartphones.

An image of NKDEP’s CKD and Medicines brochure.  

If you are living with kidney disease, you need to be careful about all the medicines you take. Your kidneys do not filter as well as they did in the past and this can cause an unsafe buildup of medicines in your blood. Your pharmacist and healthcare provider need to know what medicines you take so they can give you advice on how to protect your kidneys.

These medicines include:

  • Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines—those you get without prescriptions
  • Supplements, such as vitamins and herbal or natural remedies

You may be told to:

  • Take some medicines in smaller amounts or less often
  • Stop taking a medicine or switch to a different one

Do you take medicines for headaches, pain, fever, or colds?

If you take OTC or prescription medicines for headaches, pain, fever, or colds, you may be taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs are medicines that can be harmful to your kidneys. Common NSAIDs include ibuprofen and naproxen. Ask your pharmacist or provider if the medicines you take are safe to use.

What Can You Do?

The next time you pick up a prescription or buy an over-the-counter medicine or supplement, ask your pharmacist how the product may:

  • Affect your kidneys.
  • Interact with your other medicines.

Get your prescriptions filled at one pharmacy or pharmacy chain, so your pharmacist can:

  • Keep track of your medicines.
  • Check for harmful interactions.

Keep track of your medicines and supplements. Here are some ideas:

  • Put all of them in a bag and take them with you to the pharmacy and your doctor's appointments.
  • List them on a sheet of paper. Keep your list up to date and in your wallet.

Take your list with you to all health care visits. Remember that you can always talk with your pharmacist or health care provider about your medicines. To read more about medicines and kidney disease - and to order a free brochure on this topic, please visit Chronic Kidney Disease and Medicines. Interested in learning more about working with your health care providers? Visit our Working with Your Health Care Provider web page for additional information.

An image of NKDEP’s CKD and Medicines brochure.  

March 2014

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