Medications That Increase the Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease

Medicine is supposed to make us feel better which makes it hard to understand why some medicine can actually cause harm.

Medications can be prescribed that are very helpful for one medical condition but can be tough on the kidneys, especially in people who may be prone to developing chronic kidney disease. Certain medications may interfere with your kidneys’ usual functions or directly harm the kidneys. It’s important to know which drugs might be more harmful than helpful so you can be able to protect your kidneys when you need to.

How Certain Medicines Harm Your Kidneys

Medications can interact with various parts of your body in different ways. One pill might make you feel better in one area but have dangerous side effects for an entirely different part of your body.

Because of this, some over-the-counter and prescription medications can be bad for your kidney health, even if they accomplish the goal on the label. They can be difficult for your kidneys to process, putting more strain on them, or they might affect how frequently you urinate, both of which can damage your kidneys over time.

How to Avoid Kidney Damage

Since everyone’s body reacts to medications in different ways, there is no real way to predict whether one drug might harm your kidneys or have no effect.

That said, it’s best to be more cautious about drugs that have been linked to chronic kidney disease, and watch for any potential symptoms that may develop if you need to take them. Read the label before taking any new medication to see if it lists kidney damage as a potential side effect.

Remember that medication side effects are very common. It’s important to be as informed as possible before taking anything new and discussing all options with your doctor to make sure any new medication is safe to take.

A Word of Caution

While each of the following medications has been linked to higher rates of chronic kidney disease, this doesn’t mean everyone who takes them will harm their kidneys. Many people might use them safely for years. It is important to always remember that they can still pose a potential danger to your kidney health, especially if they’re overused.

Additionally, don’t stop taking any medication you’re currently prescribed until you’ve spoken to your doctor. You may need to switch to a new medication or slowly lower the dosage to avoid harmful side-effects or symptoms.

Medications Linked to Chronic Kidney Disease Causes

The list of medications that have a strong correlation with declining kidney health or kidney failure includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), diuretics, antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and some supplements. These are all frequently prescribed medications, and you should know about the possible effects they can have on the kidney.


NSAIDs and other pain relief pills are often overused, whether they’re over-the-counter options like ibuprofen or prescription medications like Naproxen. Overuse of these medications can put a lot of strain on your kidney. They can quickly damage the kidneys before the person taking the medication even realizes a problem.

Use NSAIDs sparingly and ideally only with your doctor’s approval.


A diuretic is any medication that causes you to urinate more frequently. This increased activity can overwork your kidneys, which eventually makes them less efficient at filtration.

Sometimes doctors do prescribe diuretics to people with chronic kidney disease to manage swelling, however this is only done with careful supervision by your doctor and close monitoring of the kidneys.


Despite how kidney troubles can interfere with your immune system, certain antibiotics used to keep you healthy are capable of injuring your kidneys. If you need to start antibiotics, make sure your doctor knows about any kidney issues and adjust your dose accordingly.  2 common antibiotics that can damage the kidneys are Vancomycin and Gentamycin.

PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors)

PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors) are used to treat acid reflux, and they reduce the production of stomach acid.

On the surface, this may not sound like it’s connected to your kidneys, but some studies have linked PPIs to both chronic kidney disease and acute kidney injury. Your doctor may routinely test your kidneys while on PPIs and stop or change your treatment if your kidneys begin to decline.


While supplements can help you manage health conditions like degenerative osteoarthritis, excessive or unnecessary use can lead to the build-up of certain minerals in your blood.

This is especially problematic if the supplements include sodium, potassium, or phosphorus, all of which are very difficult for damaged kidneys to process.

Consider using natural methods or lifestyle changes to address these health issues and using minimal supplements whenever possible.

Final Thoughts

Medications are meant to help us, but when their side effects, such as kidney damage, outweigh their benefits, they may not be worth taking. Since kidney decline can often go unnoticed for months or years, be cautious about using these medications.

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