Bayer’s widely-prescribed birth control pill Ocella (drospirenone / ethinyl estradiol) has recently been linked to kidney failure, a condition that occurs when the kidneys lose the ability to remove waste and concentrate urine without losing electrolytes. In many cases, kidney failure requires dialysis, a costly and time-consuming method of artificially removing waste and excess water from the blood. Signs and symptoms of Ocella-induced kidney failure may include bloody stools, easy bruising, decreased sensation, nosebleeds and seizures.
What’s the Problem with Ocella?
Like its brand name counterpart Yasmin, Ocella has been reported to cause a large number of serious side effects including blood clots, strokes, and kidney stones. Kidney stones, which are clinically referred to as renal lithiasis, are tiny crystalline mineral formations that develop within the kidneys. In most cases, small kidney stones are not life-threatening and do not require medical intervention because they ‘pass’ on their own. Larger kidney stones, on the other hand, can result in signifiant kidney damage and even total kidney failure.
Kidney Failure Overview
Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys stop working. The kidneys are vital organs that remove waste products and help balance water, salt, and other minerals in the blood. When they are no longer able to perform these functions, waste products, fluids, and electrolytes cannot be processed and build up in the body. When this occurs, potentially fatal health complications can ensue.
Symptoms of Kidney Failure
Signs and symptoms of Ocella-induced kidney failure may include (but are not limited to):
- decreased urine output
- fluid retention
- swelling in the legs, ankles or feet
- shortness of breath
- chest pain or pressure
Many patients with Ocella-induced kidney damage will have generalized swelling caused by fluid retention. A physical examination may reveal a heart murmur, crackles in the lungs, or signs of inflammation in the lining of the heart. Additionally, the results of laboratory tests may change radically within a short amount of time (within a few days to two weeks).
Treatment & Prognosis (Outlook)
The goal of treatment for Ocella-induced kidney failure is to restore kidney function and prevent fluid and waste from building up in the body while the kidneys heal. In most cases, this requires an overnight stay in the hospital. The amount of liquid a patient is allowed to consume will be limited to the amount of urine the individual is able to produce. The patient’s diet will likely be high in carbohydrates and low in protien, salt and potassium.
In severe cases of kidney failure, dialysis may be needed if the patient:
- experiences profound mental changes
- has dangerously high potassium levels
- stops urinating
- develops pericarditis
- retains too much fluid
- is unable to eliminate nitrogen waste products from their body
If kidney failure is detected and treated in a timely manner, the kidneys usually start working again within several weeks to months after the underlying cause has been treated. In severe cases of the disease, chronic renal failure or end-stage renal disease may develop. The following factors may increase the risk of death from kidney failure:
- old age
- pre-existing heart or lung disease
- loss of blood from the intestinal tract