The Impact of Anti-Inflammatory Medications on Individuals with Chronic Conditions

Living with numerous chronic conditions and having twice been on the receiving end of my doctor’s concern about a lower-than-normal kidney function count, I decided to research and share.

By Cindy Pivacic.


My first low level was during my chemotherapy treatment in 2008/9. That low level was quite drastic. The fact that I was on chemotherapy, other cancer-supporting medications, and consuming several vitamins at the time was putting strain on my kidneys. I went off some of my vitamins for a couple of weeks, stabilising my kidney function levels.

The second one was more recent in August 2023 when I did my annual blood counts for my CD4, Viral Load and Kidney function. The doctor asked me whether I was on any pain meds and/or anti-inflammatories. I had hurt my hip recently in a fall, aggravating (What I later discovered was osteoarthritis) the joint space narrowing. I took anti-inflammatories for an extended time as it is so easy to access OTC anti-inflammatories. There are reasons we are not supposed to take some medication for an extended period, but pain has a way of telling the brain it is okay to do so. I was now at the agony stage, and succumbed to the ‘easy’ option.

I have subsequently gone off the anti-inflammatories and found alternative vitamin supplements, which are helping…for now. I have yet to go for a second kidney function test. I plan to go and have a follow-up test done within the next month or so, and hopefully, it will have stabilised. I increased my water intake as I had slacked off on this habit. Water assists in removing waste through urination, enabling balance of bodily functions or developing kidney failure by being dehydrated.

Anti-inflammatory medications have played a vital role in managing various health conditions in medical advancements. However, for individuals struggling with chronic challenges such as HIV, diabetes, cancer, and heart conditions, the effects of these medications are complex and require careful consideration.

For people living with HIV, anti-inflammatory drugs can present a double-edged sword. While they may help alleviate inflammation associated with the virus, certain medications could negatively interact with antiretroviral drugs and impact their efficacy. Finding a balance between managing inflammation and maintaining the effectiveness of HIV treatment is essential in these cases.

In the context of diabetes, anti-inflammatory medications may offer potential benefits. Chronic inflammation, is implicated in insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes. Some anti-inflammatory drugs may help mitigate this inflammation, aiding in glycaemic control. However, careful monitoring is essential to ensure the chosen medication doesn’t adversely affect blood sugar levels or interact with diabetes-specific treatment.

In cancer treatment, inflammation is often a key player in disease advancement. Anti-inflammatory drugs can be instrumental in controlling inflammation and suppress certain aspects of cancer growth. When selecting anti-inflammatory medication, it is crucial to consider the particular type and stage, along with the possible interactions with ongoing cancer treatments.

For individuals with heart conditions, managing inflammation is crucial in preventing cardiovascular events. The challenge lies in balancing the anti-inflammatory benefits of certain medications with potential renal risks. Some drugs may contribute to fluid retention and elevated blood pressure, placing additional stress on the kidneys. Careful Anti-inflammatory medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are commonly used for pain relief but may pose risks for those with heart issues. These drugs can elevate blood pressure and increase the likelihood of cardiovascular events, necessitating cautious use and consultation with healthcare providers.

When dealing with chronic conditions, a personalised and comprehensive method of medication management is vitally important. Healthcare providers must consider the unique needs of each patient, evaluating the potential benefits of anti-inflammatory medications against the risks and possible interactions with existing treatments. 

Communication between patients and healthcare professionals is essential to ensure a well-informed and personalised treatment plan that optimises both anti-inflammatory benefits and the overall health of the individual.

A chronic condition can affect anyone. How you manage it is what makes the difference.

You can get cover of up to 3 million rand for your chronic health condition and up to 10 million if you are living with HIV.

SMS CHRONIC to 33857 to find out more. 

I did!

Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only.

It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure, and is not a substitute for professional consultation with a health professional.


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