Lupus Nephritis

Table of Contents

What is Lupus Nephritis?

Lupus Nephritis is kidney inflammation caused by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or better known as lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to produce autoantibodies that attack your own tissues and organs, including the kidneys.

Symptoms of lupus nephritis occur when autoantibodies caused by lupus affect the structure in your kidneys that filter out waste. It causes kidney inflammation and may lead to blood in the urine, protein in the urine, high blood pressure, impaired kidney function, to kidney failure.

According to WebMD, about 60% of lupus patients are at risk of suffering from lupus nephritis. When kidney inflammation occurs, your kidneys are not able to function normally and may release proteins. Lupus Nephritis can cause kidney failure if not controlled and treated properly. You can make an appointment with a nephrologist through Smarter Health.

Causes of Lupus Nephritis

Half of the adults who suffer from systemic lupus may develop lupus nephritis. Systemic lupus causes autoantibodies to damage kidney function – harming their ability to filter out waste or toxins.

Lupus Nephritis can worsen kidney function. Possible causes of lupus nephritis may include: 

  • Gender. Although women are more likely to get lupus, men get lupus nephritis more than women.
  • Race or ethnicity. Blacks, Hispanics/Latinos, and Asian-Americans are more likely to suffer from lupus nephritis than whites.

When to See a Doctor for Lupus Nephritis

To diagnose lupus nephritis, your nephrologist may perform a number of tests, including:

Urinalysis

Your kidneys function to filter out and remove waste from your body. A urine test or urinalysis can identify a problem with your kidney function. The most common test performed is looking for cell fragments which normally gets detected in the blood or tubular fragments of the kidneys. There is also proteinuria, which is when protein spreads into your body as your kidneys are unable to properly filter out waste.

Blood Tests

Certain blood tests can provide information about kidney damage and your kidneys’ ability to filter out waste. The creatinine blood test is usually performed in conjunction with a blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test to assess kidney function – how effective your kidneys filter out small molecules such as creatinine from your blood.

A serum creatinine test helps calculate the estimated glomerular filtration rate (GFR) which is used as a screening test to identify any kidney damage. 

Kidney Biopsy

During a kidney biopsy, you will lie on your stomach, then your doctor will insert a very thin and long needle through your skin. Your doctor then removes a small tissue from one of the kidneys, which will be examined under a microscope to determine how severe your disease is.

Symptoms of Lupus Nephritis

Lupus Nephritis is a serious disease. However, the symptoms are not always obvious. In many cases, the most common symptom can be indicated through swollen legs and ankles. 

Symptoms of lupus nephritis vary from person to person, possibly including:

  • Foamy urine.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Weight gain.
  • Frequent urination at night.
  • Blood contains high creatinine.
  • Swollen hands, feet, or ankles.

Not all urinary or kidney problems are caused by lupus nephritis. Patients with lupus may also develop urinary tract infections, which may cause a burning sensation when you pee and require treatment with antibiotics.

Certain lupus medications can also affect your kidneys function and cause other symptoms similar to lupus nephritis. Problems related to medications will usually disappear immediately after you stop taking medications.

Treatment for Lupus Nephritis

Your nephrologist will suggest treatment method that suits your condition. This is based on the diagnosis through a number of previous tests, such as urine tests, blood tests, and kidney biopsy. 

Medications

Your doctor may likely recommend a combination of medications to treat lupus nephritis. These medications may include corticosteroids (such as prednisone) and immunosuppressives (such as mofetil mycophenolate). Children with lupus nephritis will be prescribed with the same type of medications as adults at different doses. 

Dialysis and Kidney Transplantation

About 15% to 20% of people with lupus nephritis may require dialysis or kidney transplantation. Dialysis helps remove fluids and waste from the body, maintains the balance of minerals in the blood, and regulates blood pressure by filtering blood through the machine. A kidney transplant is performed when your kidneys can no longer function.

Treatment Cost for Lupus Nephritis

Treatment cost for lupus nephritis will depend on the treatment method recommended by your doctor. Dialysis and kidney transplantation cost higher than medications.

To calculate the estimated treatment cost for treating lupus nephritis at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.

Prevention of Lupus Nephritis

Maintaining your kidney health can help prevent lupus nephritis. Your kidneys are considered healthy if they are capable of filtering out and removing waste from your body through urine.

In general, your doctor may suggest you to adopt a healthy lifestyle to prevent kidney disease. Implementing diet changes by limiting the amount of protein and salt in your diet can improve kidney function.

There are also other healthy lifestyles that can improve kidney function, such as  exercising regularly, avoiding smoking, and avoiding alcohol consumption. 

Home Remedies for Lupus Nephritis

Apart from treatments recommended by your doctor, you are recommended to adopt a healthy lifestyle to maintain your kidney and overall health. You can make some lifestyle changes, such as: 

  • Limit your cholesterol intake
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
  • Maintain healthy blood pressure.
  • Meet daily fluids’s needs to avoid dehydration
  • Avoid medications that may affect the kidneys, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (OAINS).
  • Consume foods low in sodium, particularly if hypertension is the main cause of lupus nephritis.

Your doctor may recommend foods low in potassium, phosphorus, and protein if your kidneys no longer function properly. Although lupus nephritis is a serious condition, patients may not always experience kidney failure.

Have more questions about lupus nephritis? Write them down in the comment section below or contact a nephorologist at home and abroad through Smarter Health.

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