Just because some pain relievers can be obtained over the counter doesn't mean they're completely safe to take whenever you want for as long as you want, warns the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California. Heavy or long-term use can harm your kidneys.
Here is part of the foundation's list of things people need to know about over-the-counter analgesics:
* Don't use such pain relievers more than 10 days for pain or more than three days for fever without consulting your doctor.
* Avoid using pain relievers that contain a mixture of aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine in one pill. These are most likely to harm the kidneys. Up to 10% of the new cases of chronic kidney failure each year may be caused by overuse of these medications.
* If you are taking over-the-counter analgesics, drink six to eight glasses of water a day.
* If you already have kidney disease, acetaminophen is the safest over-the-counter pain reliever for you. But talk to your doctor before choosing one.
* If any of the following apply to you, do not take over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen, naproxen or ketoprofen) without your doctor's supervision:
--High blood pressure.
--Older than 65.
--Take diuretic medications.
* If you are taking aspirin regularly to prevent heart attack, don't worry. The small dose recommended for such prevention won't harm your kidneys.
For more information and the free brochure "Analgesics and Your Kidneys," call the foundation at (800) 747-5527.