What is Analgesic Nephropathy?

Analgesic nephropathy involves damage to one or both kidneys caused by overexposure to mixtures of medicines (analgesics) 


Analgesic nephropathy involves damage within the internal structures of the kidney. It is caused by long-term use of analgesics (pain medicines) especially over - the - counter (OTC) drugs that contain phenacetin or acetaminophen and non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

This condition frequently occurs as a result of self medicating, often for some type of Chronic pain.

Risk factors of analgesics nephropathy includes ;

Use of over the counter analgesics containing more than one active ingredient.

Taking 6 or more pills a day for 3years

History of dependant behaviors including smoking, alcohol use and excessive use of tranquilizers e. g Diazepam


There may be no symptoms in the beginning. Over time, as the kidneys are injured by the medicine, symptoms of kidney disease will develop and includes ;

  • Weakness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Increased urinary frequency or urgency 
  • Blood in the urine 
  • Nausea & vomiting.. etc


The primary goals of treatment are to prevent further damage of the kidneys and to treat kidney failure. Care provider may tell to stop taking all suspect painkillers, particularly over - the - counter drugs.

To treat kidney failure, care provider may suggest diet changes and fluid restriction.

Eventually, Dialysis or kidney transplantation may be needed.

Counseling may help to develop alternative methods of controlling Chronic pain


1 : Follow your care giver instructions when using medicines.

2 : Do not take more than the recommended dose without asking your caregivers /doctor

3 : stop self medicating.. I. e don't prescribe drugs for yourself, especially pain killers

4 : stop patronizing over - the - counter drugs without prescription especially, painkillers.

If you have been exposed to excessive painkillers, go to hospital for check up. The earlier, the better.

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