What You Need To Know About Pain Medication And Their Impact On A Senior's Kidneys And Liver

Elderly patients often confront serious pain due to illness or simply the rigors of growing older. However, there are special considerations that need to be taken when providing seniors with pain relief, especially when it comes to sensitive organs such as the kidney and liver. Here is information needed to ensure you or a loved one is doing the most to protect their organs from the potential side effects of pain medication.

Special Kidney and Liver Considerations

While seniors can handle many of the pain medications available, they also tend to process them differently. In fact, many seniors have kidneys that shrink with age or may have already suffered damage due to diseases like diabetes. The liver also experiences shrinking and less functionality over time, meaning that blood flow and filtering capacity is reduced. Seniors may also have issues with hepatitis or reduced liver function from alcohol consumption during their lifetime.

Essentially, what this all means is that pain medications may not break down as well within your liver or kidneys. That's why it's important for you or family members to share medical information with assisted living staff at places like Queen Anne Manor Senior Living about kidney or liver issues.

In order to protect these organs when administering pain medication, it may necessitate providing the lowest recommended dose and moving up from there. At the same time, routine blood tests of liver and kidney function should be performed on you or your loved one to ensure pain medications are not leading to damage.

Ultimately, you should be on the the look out for symptoms of liver and kidney failure, which can include:

  • Swollen legs, feet and ankles
  • Yellowing of skin
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Heart problems or heart failure
  • Tingling feeling or pins in needles, especially in the extremeites like hands and feet
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting

Danger of NSAIDs

At the same time, you or your loved one should take special care around non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Not only can these drugs interact with current drugs you're taking, but they can also put special strains on liver and kidneys. Instead, consider Acetaminophen due to its lower side effect profile. For more extreme pain, opioids such as codeine are also effective for pain relief without putting extreme burdens on kidney and liver function the way NSAIDs do.

It's a good idea to try alternative pain therapies, such as physical or psychological therapy to deal with pain symptoms, or simply try lowering your dose of the drug if it's having an negative impact.  

Ultimately, pain medications are essential helping you or your loved one overcome pain, but they need to be administered the right way and in a controlled setting for the best results.