While adverse side effects to the kidneys from ibuprofen use are rare, risks do exist. When taken at the recommended dose of no more than 1,200 mg per day for a short duration, the risk of kidney harm from ibuprofen is minimal for most people. In certain situations, however, ibuprofen may damage the kidneys, leading to sudden failure or long-term kidney disease. For safety, the National Kidney Foundation advises not exceeding the recommended dose and limiting use to no more than 10 days 6. People with existing kidney disease should consult their doctor before taking ibuprofen or other over-the-counter pain medications.
Long-Term Kidney Disease
Taking ibuprofen daily or frequently over a long period of time may permanently damage the kidneys. People who take ibuprofen regularly for several months to years are at greater risk for developing chronic kidney disease, a condition involving irreversible kidney damage and reduced function. In rare cases, the kidneys may eventually fail. Adults who suffer from daily chronic pain -- such as headaches, arthritis, or back or neck pain -- should see their doctor for appropriate pain management.
Sudden Kidney Failure
Sudden kidney failure related to ibuprofen use rarely occurs in otherwise healthy adults. Certain risk factors, however, may increase the chance of developing sudden kidney failure -- also known as acute renal failure -- in response to ibuprofen. Acute renal failure is a serious condition in which the kidneys suddenly stop functioning, and emergency dialysis may be needed to clean the blood. The damage is usually reversible once ibuprofen use is stopped, with a return to normal kidney function. Risk factors for acute kidney failure include:
- existing kidney disease
- cirrhosis of the liver
- heart failure
- advanced age
- heavy alcohol consumption
People with any of these risk factors should not take ibuprofen unless prescribed by your doctor.
- DailyMed: Ibuprofen (NSAID) Pain Releiver/ Fever Reducer -- Ibuprofen Tablet
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Analgesic Nephropathy (Painkillers and the Kidneys)
- Family Practice: Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and Chronic Kidney Disease Progression -- A Systematic Review
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Written Submission to the NDAC Meeting on Risks of NSAIDs
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Ibuprofen Drug Facts Label
- National Kidney Foundation: Pain Medicines (Analgesics)
- Ibuprofen: A Critical Bibliographic Review; Kim D. Rainsford, Ph.D.
- diego_cervo/iStock/Getty Images