What Drugs Can Affect Your Kidneys



Our kidneys function by removing wastes and extra water from the body.  They are a pair of organs at the back of the abdomen, and each kidney roughly the size of a fist.  You can think of your kidneys as your own personal filtration system, where the blood in our bodies filters through the multiple times per day.  Aside from filtering your blood, the kidneys remove waste, control the body's fluid balance, and regulate the balance of electrolytes. They help regulate blood pressure and direct red blood cell production.  As the kidneys filter blood, they create urine, which collects in the kidneys and drain down funnel-like tubes called ureters to the bladder.

When the kidneys to be unable to function or remove waste properly from the blood then this control of fluid balance in the body is compromised.  One of the ways to damage your kidneys or keep them from performing their job is by adding high levels of toxins into your body.  This can be through the things you eat and drink, but can also be through the use of drugs and alcohol.  This can cause abnormal levels of waste build up in the blood, and lead to swelling of the kidneys. Putting your kidneys under this continued stress can cause scarring and permanent damage to the kidneys. It can also potentially cause end-stage renal disease. People with end-stage renal disease need to be treated with dialysis, which is regular filtering of the body’s waste. They may also need a kidney transplant so that at least one kidney is working properly.

Drugs that cause kidney damage:

1.     Heroin:  Additives in heroin do not readily dissolve and can clog blood vessels leading to vital organs like the kidneys.  This can cause infection or damage to patches of cells within the kidney and even cause kidney failure.  

2.     Inhalants: Inhalants are highly toxic, and can cause cell death and significant damage to the kidneys.

3.     MDMA (Ecstasy): Can cause hyperthermia, which can lead to muscle breakdown and kidney failure

4.     PCP: PCP, or angel dust, is highly toxic and can induce kidney failure in just one large dose.  An overdose can cause problems with muscle breakdown, and lead to kidney blockages from the accumulation of this metabolic waste.

Quick Tips to keep your kidneys healthy:

·       Drink more water

·       Eat less processed foods

·       Exercise regularly

·       Avoid overuse of prescription and over the counter drugs

·       Avoid toxins like drugs and alcohol where you can

·       If you think you are experiencing a kidney problem, get tested

o   Tests include: urinalysis, glomerular filtration rate blood test, albumin-to-creatinine ratio urine test