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NSAIDs Can Cause Kidney Damage

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Q. I read in your column that naproxen can cause kidney damage. I want to reinforce that warning. I lost my kidneys as a result of taking prescription strength naproxen in 1995. I took this anti-inflammatory drug off and on for three to six months.

I eventually needed a kidney transplant. I was lucky to get one in time. People must be informed that this kind of medicine can be dangerous. Many doctors prescribe these drugs without warning patients.


A. Over 20 million Americans use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) daily for arthritis and other pain problems. This class of medicine includes OTC ibuprofen and naproxen as well as a range of prescription drugs (celecoxib, diclofenac, etodolac, piroxicam, etc).

Side effects of such drugs include stomach upset, ulcers, high blood pressure, fluid retention, heart failure, skin rash, liver and kidney damage. Anyone with kidney impairment is far more likely to experience kidney toxicity on these drugs.

People in pain are caught in a dilemma. The most frequently prescribed pain medicine, NSAIDs, can cause a lot of damage. We offer a number of other options in our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis.
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When I was 8 years old I was in a sledding accident; while my left kidney was not removed, it no longer fully functioned. I am now 66 and wasn't told not to take NSAIDs until I was 60! Now I remind my doctors I only have one functioning kidney whenever a new medication is prescribed.

I took over-the-counter generic naproxene once a day for several months. That was enough to compromise my kidney function.

I was on prescription strength naproxen now I have stage 3 kidney disease.

I have only one kidney and have developed osteoarthritis. Before my doctor would prescribe a course of treatment he mad an appointment for me with a kidney specialist. I am so grateful he is as concerned about my good kidney as I am...

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