Medications and Kidneys

With more than 37 million people in the U.S. having chronic kidney disease, there is a chance you or someone you know has trouble with their kidneys (1).

What Exactly is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?

CKD happens when there are changes to your kidneys that cause them not to filter your blood properly. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two main causes of kidney damage.

If I Have CKD, Are There Any Medications I Need to Use with Caution or Not Use at All?

Please talk with your health care provider or pharmacist if you have any questions, but here are some great guidelines to follow:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), available over the counter as ibuprofen and naproxen, can cause damage to kidneys that are already stressed. Please talk with your health care provider or pharmacist if you have kidney problems and are wanting to take an NSAID so you may be directed to medication options that are safer for your kidneys.
  • Herbal supplements can interfere with prescribed medications, as well as with each other if you take multiple supplements, which can further stress or damage your kidneys. Please discuss any herbal supplements you are using or considering using with your health care provider or pharmacist.
  • Medications that have been prescribed to you can interact with each other. These medication interactions can further stress or damage your kidneys. Please bring in the bottles of all the medications and supplements you are taking when you have an appointment with your health care provider. Also, please ask your pharmacist or health care provider if you have any concerns.

What Are Other Things That I Should Not Do if I Have CKD?

Smoking, vaping and electronic cigarettes can make kidney disease worse. Nicotine causes inflammation and stress in the body, which can harm kidneys.

Substances commonly found in e-cigarettes can reach the kidneys through the bloodstream and can cause kidney injury or worsen kidney damage (2). If you smoke or vape, please talk with your health care provider about ways to help you stop smoking or vaping.

UofL Health Can Help

UofL Physicians – Kidney Disease Program has one of Louisville’s most experienced teams of kidney disease specialists. Serving more than 5,000 patients annually, our compassionate and multidisciplinary team of nephrologists, nurses, dieticians and social workers are dedicated to educating and treating the community of patients living with kidney disease. Click here to see all our Kidney Disease Program locations.

Also, UofL Health – Pharmacy has the following locations for your medication questions or needs:


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Article by: Esther Muhs, APRN

Esther Muhs, APRN, is a nurse practitioner with UofL Physicians – Nephrology. Her area of interest is kidney disease. Esther earned her master of science in nursing from University of Kentucky and her bachelor of science in nursing from University of Arizona. She enjoys learning and helping others learn.

All posts by Esther Muhs, APRN
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