Aspirin also goes by the name acetylsalicylic acid (ASA). It is known as an analgesic (pain reliever) and it is an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug). It is one of the first drugs we reach for when we are in pain, and most of us consider its use to be utterly safe and benign.
Many of us were given aspirin in infancy for bumps and bruises, fevers, and teething. It may seem just an accepted part of life that when pain strikes, we reach for the aspirin bottle.
Aspirin relieves pain by reducing the amount of prostaglandins in your body. Prostaglandins exist in almost all of our cells. Their role is to respond to tissue damage. In the process nerve endings become irritated.
When prostaglandins are at work, they cause inflammation, fever and pain. Aspirin is understandably a very popular way of dealing with activated prostaglandins.
But if too much aspirin is taken, for too long a time, kidney damage can be the unhappy outcome. Even at what would normally be considered non-toxic dosages, kidney function can be impaired by NSAID toxicity. One of the effects of NSAID toxicity is a decrease of blood flow to organs, especially to the kidneys.
About 10 percent of all new cases of chronic kidney failure (CKD) every year are suspected to be the result of overuse of aspirin and other analgesics. It is also important to avoid combining analgesics like aspirin and acetaminophen, and any extra ingredients like codeine or caffeine. These ingredients when taken in combination in this way, can increase the chance of kidney disease.
For people whose kidneys are healthy, moderate occasional usage of aspirin seems to be safe. But those with heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease or kidney disease, and seniors on diuretics, should not be taking aspirin in order to avoid causing kidney malfunction and ultimately kidney failure.
If you feel you need to take analgesics like aspirin due to a chronic condition, there are some things you can do to counteract the possible negative effects. Drink more liquids. Take antioxidant supplements to help protect the liver and the kidneys.
Have your doctor monitor your kidneys regularly.