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Can Ibuprofen cause damage to the liver when you are taking it for arthritis?

You should wonder if a medication you often take for pain is safe. There are some misconceptions about NSAIDS (ibuprofen, naproxen, Motrin, Advil) and some truths. How much can or should you take and is it bad for your liver or kidneys

NSAIDs have important adverse effects on the kidney that you should know about.

Here is the science behind the problem. Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs inhibit prostaglandins, and that can cause a problem because prostaglandins dilate blood vessels leading to the kidneys. Inhibiting prostaglandins may lead to kidney ischemia (dead tissue from decreased blood flow) and thus acute kidney injury.

A simple blood test may show a rise in creatinine if your kidneys are being affected, usually seen within the first three to seven days of NSAID therapy. Acute kidney injury can occur with any NSAID though naproxen seems to be a bigger culprit. In one study, folks who took NSAIDs had twice the risk of acute kidney injury within 30 days of starting to take the NSAIDs. Good news is it’s reversible if you stop taking them.

In people with high blood pressure, taking NSAIDs long term may worsen underlying high blood pressure. People with kidney problems at baseline more often get in trouble with NSAIDs, but if you are taking ibuprofen for long periods of time it’s not a bad idea to have a check of your kidney function with a quick blood test. Remember, acute kidney injury from NSAIDs doesn’t cause any symptoms.