Removing waste from your body is one of the most important things your kidneys do for you. As your blood passes through your kidneys, they filter out substances your body doesn’t need and send them out in your urine. But, if your kidneys don’t work properly, some substances (including medications, both over-the-counter and those that your doctor prescribes for you) don’t get removed. If they build up, they can cause harm.

It’s important to tell your doctor about all drugs you take, even over-the-counter painkillers. These aren’t as safe for people with chronic kidney disease as they might be for those who don’t have any medical problems.

Here are some things you should know about taking painkiller medications:

  • Medications that contain several ingredients can be harmful. Some painkillers contain several different ingredients, such as aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine. This is challenging for your kidneys. Ask your doctor whether this kind of medication is safe for you to take. Read the label carefully. Make sure you follow the directions.

  • Acetaminophen may be okay but ask your doctor first. He or she may say they are fine for occasional use, but should not be taken often.

  • NSAIDs may be fine for short periods. “NSAID” stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. This category of medication includes ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and ketoprofen. Ask your doctor before taking any of these drugs, follow directions, and don’t take them for long periods of time.