Managing Medications

People with chronic kidney disease often need to take multiple medications.  Understanding the medications that have been prescribed to you is a key part of taking an active role in managing your kidney disease.

Because your kidneys are responsible for removing medications from your body, as your kidney function changes your medications will also change.  Eventually you may need to decrease the amount you take of certain drugs, take them less often, or you may stop taking them altogether.  New medications may be prescribed.

It’s very important to take your medications exactly as prescribed, or they may be less effective.  Some drugs are meant to be taken a specific number of times per day.  Some need to be taken with food, and some on an empty stomach. Never stop taking a drug without talking to your doctor first.

You should maintain an up-to-date list of all the medications you’re taking and bring it with you to every appointment and emergency room visit.  Also let your pharmacist know that you have chronic kidney disease.

Finally, when you have chronic kidney disease, it’s very important to check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications.  NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) can cause damage to the kidneys, especially if used at a high dose for long periods of time.  Vitamins, laxatives, antacids, and herbal medicines all need to be approved by your doctor, because they can affect your kidneys and/or the effectiveness of the medications you’re taking.