If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Lupus or suspect you may have it, you might have come across the term "lupus nephritis." This complex-sounding term can be intimidating, but don't worry, we'll break down what lupus nephritis is in an easy-to-understand and friendly manner.
What is Lupus Nephritis?
Lupus nephritis is a condition that affects the kidneys, and it's one of the most common and serious complications of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), commonly known as Lupus. Let's break down the words to understand it better:
Lupus: Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs. It can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, heart, lungs, and kidneys.
Nephritis: Nephritis is a medical term for kidney inflammation. When you combine "lupus" and "nephritis," you get "lupus nephritis," which simply means kidney inflammation caused by lupus.
How Does Lupus Nephritis Occur?
In lupus nephritis, the immune system's misguided attack targets the small blood vessels in the kidneys. This can lead to inflammation, which can damage the kidneys over time. If left untreated or unmanaged, lupus nephritis can progress and cause severe kidney damage, potentially leading to kidney failure.
Lupus nephritis can manifest with various symptoms, which may include:
Swelling: You may notice swelling, especially in the legs, ankles, and around the eyes. This is due to fluid retention caused by impaired kidney function.
Foamy Urine: Excessive protein in the urine can make it appear foamy or bubbly.
High Blood Pressure: Kidney dysfunction can lead to high blood pressure, which is an important indicator of lupus nephritis. You may be prescribed medications to lower your blood pressure if you have Lupus nephritis.
Dark Urine: Urine may appear dark or bloody due to kidney damage.
Fatigue: Kidney problems can lead to anemia and, consequently, fatigue. Lupus itself can also cause fatigue even without kidney involvement.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you suspect lupus nephritis, your doctor will perform various tests, including urine tests to check for protein and blood, blood tests to assess kidney function, and possibly a kidney biopsy for a definitive diagnosis.
Treatment for lupus nephritis aims to reduce inflammation, control symptoms, and protect the kidneys from further damage. Common treatments include immunosuppressive medications, corticosteroids, and medications to manage high blood pressure.
Lupus nephritis sounds scary, but understanding the basics can help you take control of your health. If you or someone you know is living with lupus, it's essential to stay in close contact with a healthcare provider. Early diagnosis and proper management are key to preventing kidney damage and maintaining a good quality of life.
Changing your diet and lifestyle can make a huge difference in your Lupus symptoms and preventing further damage to your kidneys.
Remember, you're not alone in this journey – there are healthcare professionals and support networks available to guide you every step of the way.
If you'd like to speak with me about how I can help you, schedule a free phone call today: