Photo of a shelf holding common household pain relief solutions.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are commonly used to relieve pain and inflammation. Doctors, and VA doctors in particular, frequently prescribe NSAIDs to manage musculoskeletal injuries and other types of pain. While NSAIDs are generally safe, the overuse or misuse of these drugs can have serious side effects.

A recent VA study found that “inappropriate use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) was prevalent among the Veterans.” The VA has long known that these drugs can cause not only kidney damage but a large assortment of side effects, including GI issues and heart problems.

But one of the most concerning side effects is chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease is a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure and other complications. In this blog post, we will discuss the link between the overprescription of NSAIDs by military doctors and chronic kidney disease.

What are NSAIDs?

NSAIDs are commonly used to manage pain and inflammation. These drugs block the production of certain chemicals in the body that cause inflammation, such as prostaglandins. For veterans, who may have been exposed to strenuous physical activity and injury, NSAIDs provide an effective pain management solution.

There are many kinds of NSAIDs, including:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)
  • Aspirin
  • Celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • Indomethacin (Indocin)
  • Meloxicam (Mobic)

NSAIDs are commonly used to treat conditions like arthritis, headaches, and various aches and pains. However, they can cause side effects, especially when used in high doses or for a long time. Common side effects include stomach pain, heartburn, and a greater chance of bleeding. More serious side effects can include stomach ulcers, increased blood pressure, kidney problems, and an increased risk of heart problems. For these reasons, it's important to use NSAIDs under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

How NSAIDs Can Lead to Chronic Kidney Disease

NSAIDs work by blocking a compound in your body called prostaglandins. In many places in your body, prostaglandins cause inflammation and pain, which is why blocking them helps you feel better. But in your kidneys, prostaglandins do an important job: they help keep the blood flowing. So, when you take a lot of NSAIDs, your kidneys might not get all the blood they need, which can cause damage over time.

Moreover, NSAIDs can interfere with your kidneys’ ability to manage potassium levels in your blood. When you have too much potassium in your blood (which doctors call hyperkalemia), it can be dangerous, especially for your heart.

Most people who take these medicines for a short time won't have these problems. It becomes a bigger issue if you're taking them a lot, for a long time, or if your kidneys are already not in great shape. That's why it's always important to talk to a doctor or another healthcare provider before starting to take these medicines regularly.

NSAIDs in the VA

NSAIDs are a popular choice for VA medical professionals because they are easily accessible and relatively inexpensive. They are also effective at reducing inflammation and pain caused by a variety of conditions. However, this convenience comes with the risk that long-term use can lead to chronic kidney disease and even kidney failure.

Additionally, overreliance on NSAIDs can mask underlying medical conditions and prevent proper treatment. For example, chronic pain may be a symptom of an underlying condition like arthritis or nerve damage. By simply treating the pain with NSAIDs, the root cause of the pain may go untreated, leading to further complications down the road.

We Handle VA Medical Malpractice Cases Coast-to-Coast

The overprescription of NSAIDs by VA doctors and overreliance on NSAIDs by VA providers is a growing concern.

Patients may be prescribed these drugs for long periods of time without proper monitoring of kidney function. Many veterans may also be taking other medications that can interact with NSAIDs, further increasing the risk of kidney damage. In addition, many veterans may be taking NSAIDs without a prescription, which can lead to increased dosage and misuse of these drugs.

At National Trial Law, our team of VA medical malpractice attorneys has the expertise, resources, and passion for conducting thorough evaluations and reviewing all evidence to determine the responsible party. Trust us to handle your complex, high-stakes case.

Our attorneys are ready to provide comprehensive, personalized guidance throughout each stage of the litigation process. Call (833) 913-1885 or contact us online to get started with a free consultation.

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