The kidneys are very delicate organs. As it can be seen in a previous post, they are in charge of many different functions and need to have a good supply of blood at all times in order to perform appropriately.
1. The most common reason the kidneys get damaged is when the blood supply decreases. This happens when an individual loses fluids through diarrhea, vomiting and does not replenish its fluids with salt-containing fluids.
2. Certain pain medications, can affect the internal blood flow of the kidneys. If these medications are taken and the body is not adequately hydrated the blood flow to the kidney cells can severely decrease and cause kidney damage. The type of pain medications belong to a category called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Common examples of them are ibuprofen, naproxen and ketorolac. Other medications, taken when the body is not well hydrated can also damage the kidneys these include diuretics and blood pressure medications called ACE-inhibitors (examples: captopril, lisinopril, enalapril) and angiotensin receptor blockers (examples losartan, valsartan, irbesartan).
3. Finally, the kidneys can get damaged by a substance that is necessary for certain diagnostic procedures. The use of radiocontrast for coronary angiograpahies or CT scans can damage the kidneys if they are already chronically damaged or if the patient is not adequately hydrated.
There are other causes for acute kidney damage. The post concentrates in the common ones.
All these causes are usually temporary and the faster they are corrected, the better the chances of avoiding longer damage. Whenever there is a change in the level of fluids a body, the balance has to be restored. Do not hesitate to talk to your doctor or go the the closest Emergency Department if you feel at risk.
Marco A. Ramos MD