Is Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen Bad for Your Liver and Kidneys?

You need to question if a medication you typically consider pain is safe. There are some mistaken beliefs about NSAIDS (ibuprofen, naproxen, Motrin, Advil) and some realities. How much can or should you take and is it bad for your liver or kidneys?

Dosage of Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen

For the treatment of mild to moderate pain, minor fever, and acute or chronic inflammatory conditions 200 mg to 400 mg of ibuprofen will work, and is similar to 650 mg of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or aspirin. Typically taken every 6 to 8 hours, the optimum dose of NSAIDs per day is 2400 mg which is 12 over-the-counter pills.

What Is Bad or Safe for Your Liver?

Ibuprofen and other NSAIDS seldom affect the liver. Unlike acetaminophen (Tylenol) most NSAIDs are absorbed entirely and have minimal first-pass hepatic (liver) metabolism. To puts it simply, the way NSAIDS are metabolized makes liver toxicity (hepatotoxicity) really rare. Quotes are that 1 in 100,000 NSAID prescriptions result in severe liver injury. Normally NSAIDs are extremely liver-safe.

How Does Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen Affect to Kidney

NSAIDs have important unfavorable effects on the kidney that you should know about.

ibuprofen and liver damage

Here is the science behind the issue. Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs hinder prostaglandins, and that can cause an issue due to the fact that prostaglandins dilate capillary resulting in the kidneys, according to Preventing prostaglandins may result in kidney anemia (dead tissue from reduced blood circulation) and therefore severe kidney injury.

A simple blood test might show a rise in creatinine if your kidneys are being affected, typically seen within the first 3 to seven days of NSAID therapy. Severe kidney injury can occur with any NSAID though naproxen appears to be a bigger culprit. In one study, folks who took NSAIDs had twice the risk of acute kidney injury within 30 days of starting to take the NSAIDs. Good news is it’s reversible if you stop taking them.

In individuals with hypertension, taking NSAIDs long term may aggravate underlying hypertension. Individuals with kidney problems at baseline regularly get in difficulty with NSAIDs, however if you are taking ibuprofen for extended periods of time it’s not a bad idea to have a check of your kidney function with a quick blood test. Keep in mind, intense kidney injury from NSAIDs does not cause any symptoms.


NSAIDs are safe for the liver, but can cause a problem with kidney function that is reversible if you stop taking them. Typically safe but worth taking notice of.

Last modified: August 31, 2016


The Author

Reyus Mammadli

As a healthy lifestyle advisor I try to guide individuals in becoming more aware of living well and healthy through a series of proactive and preventive measures, disease prevention steps, recovery after illness or medical procedures.

Education: Bachelor Degree of Medical Equipment and Electronics.

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