For kidney's sake, stop popping pills

Next time a nagging headache bothers you, think twice before popping a painkiller. The habit of resorting to such drugs or antibiotic can take a toll on your kidney.

Patients as young as those in their 20s are developing kidney ailments because of this habit,doctors said on Thursday, World Kidney Day.

"There are certain painkillers and antibiotics which are kidney-toxic. Young professionals these days want a quick fix for conditions like joint pains or headaches and hence pop over-the-counter drugs. Because of such abuse of painkillers, many young people are getting kidney ailments,"said Dr Deepak Shankar Ray, the nephrology and renal transplantation head at Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences.

The past few years have seen the average age of kidney patients in India come down to 40. The average age in the West is 65 and above.

"Irrational use of painkillers by youngsters is rampant now and is a major factor when it comes to developing kidney ailments at a young age. Many young people are also becoming diabetic and getting hypertension due to job stress. These factors put them at a risk of kidney disease," said Dr Shivaji Basu, chief urologist, Fortis Hospitals.

Even as some painkillers are very effective and useful, they are randomly abused as there is no mechanism to check the sale of these drugs over the counter. Not many care to think about the side effects of abusing such analsegic.

Dr Abhijit Tarafdar, nephrologist at Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, sounded a dire warning. "Earlier we would see that most patients with renal problems were aged 50 and above. But now we are finding people in their late 20s and 30s with renal problems," he said.

Consumption of packaged and junk food is also harmful, said the doctors. Due to unavailability of time to cook food at home, many young professionals resort to food from restaurants, canteens or roadside stalls. Doctors said that this also is harmful for the kidney.

"Rampant abuse of painkillers is definitely a concern. Besides that, consuming packaged junk food could trigger renal ailments. Due to work pressure, many professionals are resorting to such food nowadays. Some of the colours used in cooking could also be harmful for the kidney," warned Dr Rajendra Pandey, the nephrologist head of SSKM.

By the time the ailments are detected, the ailments have progressed to an advanced stage in many cases. Then, there's no option but to indergo regular dialysis and, ultimately, a transplant.

"Those abusing painkillers should stop immediately. And people who are obese, diabetic and those with hypertension should get regular check-ups. If detected in time, renal problems can be reversed with changed in lifestyle and medication," said Dr Ray.

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