What is lupus nephritis?
Lupus nephritis is a condition that occurs when your kidney is inflamed. It is considered as one of the most common complications in people who have systemic lupus erythematosus, commonly known as lupus, an autoimmune disease in which your immune system produces proteins called autoantibodies that attack your own tissues and organs.
Lupus nephritis happens when lupus autoantibodies impact the structures in your kidneys that play an important role in filtering out waste. This causes kidney inflammation and may lead to blood in the urine (hematuria), protein in the urine (proteinuria), high blood pressure, impaired kidney function or even kidney failure.
How common is lupus nephritis?
Lupus nephritis affects approximately 3 out of 10,000 people around the world both men and women. However, it is more common in females than males and typically occurs in patients aged 20-40 years. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of lupus nephritis?
The common symptoms of lupus nephritis are:
- Swelling of the legs, ankles and feet
- Swelling in the face or hands
- Dark urine
- Blood in urine
- Foamy, frothy urine
- Having to urinate often, especially at night
- Gaining weight
- High blood pressure
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes lupus nephritis?
The cause of lupus nephritis, a genetic predisposition, plays role in lupus nephritis. Multiple genes, many of which are not yet identified, mediate this genetic predisposition.
The immune system protects the human body from infection, with immune system problems it cannot distinguish between harmful and healthy substances.
The pathophysiology of lupus nephritis has autoimmunity contributing significantly. Autoantibodies direct themselves against nuclear elements. The characteristics of nephritogenic autoantibodies (lupus nephritis) are: antigen specificity directed at nucleosome, high affinity autoantibodies form intravascular immune complexes, autoantibodies of certain isotypes activate complement.
What increases my risk for lupus nephritis?
There are many risk factors for lupus nephritis, such as:
- Female gender
- 20-40 years ofage
- A history of autoimmune disease
- The presence of SLE, which has the sole predisposing factor of family history.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is lupus nephritis diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed and some tests will be also recommended by your doctor. One of the first signs of lupus nephritis is blood in your urine or extremely foamy urine. High blood pressure and swelling in your feet also might indicate lupus nephritis. Some recommended tests that will help your doctor make a diagnosis include the following:
Your doctor will look for elevated levels of waste products, such as creatinine and urea. Normally, the kidneys filter out these products.
24-Hour Urine Collection
This test measures the kidney’s ability selectively to filter wastes. It determines how much protein appears in urine over 24 hours.
Urine tests measure kidney function. They identify levels of:
- Red blood cells
- White blood cells
Iothalamate Clearance Testing
This test uses a contrast dye to see if your kidneys are filtering properly.
Radioactive iothalamate is injected into your blood. Your doctor will then test how quickly it’s excreted in your urine. They may also directly test how quickly it leaves your blood. This is considered to be the most accurate test of kidney filtration speed.
Biopsies are the most accurate and also most invasive way to diagnose kidney disease. Your doctor will insert a long needle through your stomach and into your kidney. They’ll take a sample of kidney tissue to be analyzed for signs of damage.
Ultrasounds use sound waves to create a detailed image of the kidney. Your doctor will look for anything abnormal in the size and shape of your kidney.
How is lupus nephritis treated?
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for lupus nephritis. The goal of treatment options is to keep the problem from getting worse. Stopping kidney damage early can prevent the need for a kidney transplant.
Treatment can also provide relief from lupus symptoms.
Some common treatment options may include:
- Minimizing your intake of protein and salt
- Taking blood pressure medication
- Using steroids to reduce swelling and inflammation
- Taking medicines to suppress your immune system such as prednisone, which reduces immune system damage to the kidneys
Extensive kidney damage may require additional treatment.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage lupus nephritis?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with lupus nephritis:
- Drink enough fluids to stay well hydrated.
- Eat a low-sodium diet, especially if hypertension is an issue.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure.
- Limit cholesterol.
- Avoid medications that can affect the kidneys, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: August 22, 2017 | Last Modified: August 23, 2017
Lupus nephritis. http://www.webmd.com/lupus/lupus-nephritis#1 . Accessed March 3, 2017.
Lupus nephritis. http://www.healthline.com/health/lupus-nephritis . Accessed March 3, 2017.
Lupus nephritis. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/330369-overview . Accessed March 3, 2017.