How Lupus Affect The Kidneys
Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located in the middle of your back, below the rib cage, one on each side of your spine. They are each about the size of a fist. The main function of the kidneys is to remove waste products and other toxins from the body. Each kidney has about one million tiny filters, or glomeruli. Each glomerulus is attached to a tubule . Blood is filtered in the glomerulus, and waste and extra water are collected in the tubule, where they become urine.
The urine moves from the kidneys to the bladder through tubes called the ureters and is then passed out of the body. In systemic lupus, the immune system is overactive, producing antibodies to the bodys own tissues. The antibodies combine with protein material called antigens to form immune complexes. They can cause inflammation, cell death and scarring in any organ, including the kidneys, where they can get trapped by the kidneys filtering system. When the kidneys are inflamed or scarred, their ability to do this job is impaired, and red blood cells or proteins, which are normally kept in the bloodstream by the kidneys, may leak into the urine. Tests may also show that the kidneys have lost some of the ability to remove waste products from the blood, which can become very serious.
How Lupus Affects The Body
In people with lupus, the immune system begins to recognize and attack the bodys own tissues. This phenomenon is similar to friendly fire and causes inflammation in various parts of the body. It is important to realize, however, that lupus can affect different people in different ways and that signs and symptoms can come and go, producing periods of flares and remission. The following articles provide an introduction to how lupus may affect different parts of the body.
How Should I Take Care Of Myself If I Have Lupus Nephritis
- Be active in your health care and partner with your rheumatologist and nephrologist .
- Be aware of what pills you are taking, their dosage, and when to take them.
- Recognize the different signs of flares relating to the disease, such as headache, high blood pressure, discolored urine, fever, joint pains, skin rash, shortness of breath, and foot/eye swelling. Notify your doctors.
- Recognize the signs of potential drug adverse events such as fever, chills, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, blood in urine and diarrhea. Notify your doctors.
- Take care of your bone health and your cardiovascular health .
Also Check: Can Kidney Stones Cause Constipation Or Diarrhea
How Does Lupus Affect The Kidneys
Your kidneys filter waste and extra water out of your blood to make urine . They also help control your blood pressure and keep the right balance of salts, acids, and minerals in your blood.;
Lupus can cause a kidney disease called lupus nephritis. Lupus nephritis is inflammation in the kidneys that can make them stop working. When the kidneys arent working well, waste builds up in the blood and extra water builds up in the body.;
Lupus nephritis is most common in people ages 20 to 40. It usually starts within 5 years of your first lupus symptoms.
What Are The Symptoms Of Lupus Nephritis
In the early stages of lupus nephritis, you might not notice any symptoms. As the disease gets worse, it can cause the following symptoms:
- Foamy urine
- Peeing more often than usual, especially at night
- High blood pressure
Pregnancy can cause some of the same symptoms, like swollen feet and ankles. If you have any of these symptoms during pregnancy, tell your doctor. You may need tests to find out if your symptoms are caused by pregnancy or by a kidney problem.
Recommended Reading: What Are The Three Main Regions Of The Kidney?
Why We Need More Research
Whilst the treatments we have for lupus kidney disease are good, they have many drawbacks and different treatments work for different patients. More is being understood about the mechanisms that lead to kidney involvement in lupus and there are several new and very promising medications being developed.
To work out the best combination of treatments we have to do randomised controlled trials . These test whether new treatments or different combinations of established treatments, do truly offer benefit to patients.
Trials are rigorously controlled to ensure people are safe. They can involve more visits and tests than routine treatment. Doctors looking after patients in trials have to have special training to understand what is expected of them and patient safety is at the absolute heart of any study.
Sometimes the research being undertaken is to understand mechanisms or changes that occur in more detail and are not part of a treatment trial – you may simply be asked questions, or have some extra blood and/or urine samples taken.
Your participation in research is exceptionally valuable for improving the future of people with lupus kidney disease. You can ask your doctor about any research that you might be able to participate in and consider joining our Kidney Voices for Research network.
An Important Note About Medications And Blood Pressure
Due to the silent nature of kidney lupus, it is very important that you take your medications daily as prescribed by your doctor. Even if you do not feel sick, inflammation in your kidneys and other organs can lead to permanent, irreversible scarring. Your medications can combat this inflammation right now, but permanent scarring will never go away. If kidney disease is allowed to progress without treatment, your kidneys will fail, and you will need to go to dialysis three times per week to have your blood filtered. The only way to get off dialysis is to have a kidney transplant, and organ transplant opportunities are not easy to come by. This information is not meant to frighten you, but merely to ensure that you understand how important it is to take your medications!
In addition, since the kidneys are tied intimately to the regulation of your blood pressure, it is imperative that you maintain a healthy blood pressure of 120/80 mmHg. If your doctor prescribes a blood pressure medication to keep your kidney lupus in check, be sure to take it exactly as prescribed. Limit your intake of salt to less than 3 grams per day, and try to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. The prognosis for people with lupus nephritis does not have to be grim; it is important to remember that you play the most important role in keeping your body as healthy as possible!
Recommended Reading: Is Watermelon Good For Your Kidneys
Three Types Of Skin Rash
Each of the three following kinds of rash constitutes one criterion for diagnosing lupus: a butterfly-shaped rash across the bridge of the nose and onto the cheeks; a red or purple scaly rash on both arms, the fingers of both hands, the neck, the torso, or the legs; a rash resulting from photosensitivitythat is, exposure to sunlight.
Signs You May Have Kidney Disease
More than 37 million American adults are living with kidney disease and most dont know it. There are a number of physical signs of kidney disease, but sometimes people attribute them to other conditions. Also, those with kidney disease tend not to experience symptoms until the very late stages, when the kidneys are failing or when there are large amounts of protein in the urine. This is one of the reasons why only 10% of people with chronic kidney disease know that they have it, says Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, Chief Medical Officer at the National Kidney Foundation.
While the only way to know for sure if you have kidney disease is to get tested, Dr. Vassalotti shares 10 possible signs you may have kidney disease. If youre at risk for kidney disease due to high blood pressure, diabetes, a family history of kidney failure or if youre older than age 60, its important to get tested annually for kidney disease. Be sure to mention any symptoms youre experiencing to your healthcare practitioner.
Recommended Reading: Is Grape Juice Good For Kidney Stones
What Color Is Urine When Your Kidneys Are Failing
When kidneys are failing, the increased concentration and accumulation of substances in urine lead to a darker color which may be brown, red or purple. The color change is due to abnormal protein or sugar, high levels of red and white blood cells, and high numbers of tube-shaped particles called cellular casts.
What Is The Treatment For Lupus Nephritis
The treatment for lupus nephritis focuses on preventing more damage to your kidneys. Finding and treating lupus nephritis early can help prevent serious damage. Lupus damages your kidneys by causing your immune system to attack them. To prevent this from happening, your health care provider might want you to take a medicine called an immunosuppressant. These types of medicines weaken your immune system so that it cannot harm your kidneys as much.
Your health care provider might also want you to take medicine to lower your blood pressure. High blood pressure is the second most common cause of kidney failure . Two common types of blood pressure medicine are ACE inhibitors and ARBs . These medicines lower the amount protein in the urine and can protect the kidneys from further damage.
Having too much fluid in your body can also raise your blood pressure and strain your heart. If your body is holding on to too much water, you may have leg or ankle swelling or trouble breathing due to the fluid in your lungs. Your health care provider might tell you to take a diuretic, also known as a water pill. This medicine can help your body get rid of some of the extra fluid it is holding on to. As a result, you may need to use the bathroom more as fluid is removed through the urine.
Read Also: Constipation And Kidney Stones
Is Drinking A Lot Of Water Good For Your Kidneys
Water helps the kidneys remove wastes from your blood in the form of urine. Water also helps keep your blood vessels open so that blood can travel freely to your kidneys, and deliver essential nutrients to them. But if you become dehydrated, then it is more difficult for this delivery system to work.
What Causes Lupus Nephritis
No one knows what causes the disease. Your family history and things in your environment such as infections, viruses, toxic chemicals or pollutants may play a role in causing the disease. Men and women of all ages and races get lupus. However, about 90 percent of people diagnosed with lupus are women.
Read Also: Is Pomegranate Juice Good For Your Kidneys
How Is Kidney Lupus Monitored
As you return to your doctors office, she/he will most likely keep close watch on your kidneys to ensure that your kidney involvement is not worsening. There is no all-encompassing test for kidney function; instead, your doctor will use a number of tests to monitor your blood and urine. By obtaining a blood urea nitrogen levels and blood creatinine levels, she/he can monitor how well your kidneys are filtering blood. In addition, you blood pressure will be monitored, since high blood pressure is an indication of kidney degeneration. High levels of protein in the urine can indicate increased kidney involvement, since protein usually does not cross from your blood vessels into your kidney tubules and thus should not appear in your urine. In addition, tests of blood complement and anti-DNA antibodies can suggest inflammation that may be affecting the kidneys.
Where Can I Get Treatment For Lupus Nephritis
Timely and aggressive treatment results in considerable improvement or complete remission in many people, but treatment is not yet optimal for all patients. Those who do not respond to conventional treatment may be eligible for clinical studies of newer agents. At the HSS , people with lupus nephritis benefit from multidisciplinary care from a team of rheumatologists, nephrologists, pathologists and other specialists, an on-site infusion service, social work and other support services, all in one location.
Many of the Centers faculty members are engaged in designed to improve treatment outcomes. Researchers and physicians at HSS and across the country continue to evaluate the possible role of other medications to effectively treat lupus nephritis and minimize the risk of side effects.
Please visit our page for more information.
If you would like more information about the treatment of lupus nephritis at HSS, please request an appointment or call 1.877.606.1555.
Read Also: Pineapple For Kidney
Taking Care Of Yourself With Lupus As You Age
Living with lupus and feeling as good as you can involves more than simply taking your medications. Even without lupus, people tend to age better when they maintain a healthy diet and get regular exercise. It’s well worth the effort to take time to review your life and make any needed changes to keep yourself as healthy as you can be.
For startersand if you haven’t thought specifically about your diet and lupusfind out how to eat in a way that decreases your lupus symptoms. Lupus is a systemic disease, so a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in pro-inflammatory foods is a good choice. No specific foods have been shown to alter the course of lupus; however, two foods to avoid are garlic and alfalfa sprouts. Scientists believe that three substancs in garlicallicin, ajoene, and thiosulfinatesincrease immune system activity, which may cause flare-ups; and alfalfa sprouts contain an amino acid called L-canavanine that may have a similar effect.
Stress can cause the release of so-called stress hormones that can negatively affect your health. Ask your healthcare provider or conduct some research on the many simple stress management techniques that can benefit you whether or not you’re living with lupus.
Where Are The Kidneys And What Do They Do
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that rest under your abdominal cavity, towards your lower back. Most people think of the kidneys as organs responsible for filtering blood and producing urine. However, the kidneys play other vital roles in the body, including the regulation of blood volume, blood pH, and blood pressure. The functional unit of the kidney is called the nephron. Each nephron functions like a mini-kidney to remove waste and unneeded substances from your body, while also ensuring that you retain vital nutrients and water.
Don’t Miss: Is Mulberry Good For Kidneys
How Will I Know If I Have Lupus Nephritis
Only people who have lupus can have lupus nephritis. If your health care provider thinks that your lupus might be affecting your kidneys, they might order urine tests to look for blood or protein in your urine. Having blood or protein in your urine can be a sign that your kidneys are not working as well as they should. Your health care provider might also want you to have a blood test to check for the level of creatinine in your blood. Creatinine is a waste product, caused by muscle activity. Having a high level of creatinine in your blood is also a sign that theres a problem with your kidneys.
If your blood and urine tests show that there might be a problem, your health care provider might want you to have a kidney biopsy to look for signs of lupus nephritis. A kidney biopsy is a procedure where your doctor takes a very small piece of your kidneys to look at it closely under a microscope. Your doctor checks it for signs of lupus nephritis, such as inflammation or scarring.
Your health care providers may not always know if you have lupus nephritis right away. Symptoms of lupus nephritis can also look like symptoms of other diseases. It may take up to several years for you to get the right tests or diagnosis.
Symptoms Of Lupus Nephritis
Lupus nephritis is a serious problem. Its symptoms, though, are not always dramatic. For many, the first noticeable symptom is swelling of the legs, ankles and feet. Less often, there can be swelling in the face or hands.
Other symptoms can vary from person to person and from day to day. They may include:
- Weight gain
- Foamy, frothy urine
- The need to urinate during the night
Not all urinary or kidney problems in people with lupus are due to lupus nephritis. People with lupus may also be prone to urinary tract infections. These cause burning on urination and require treatment with antibiotics. Certain lupus medications can also affect the kidneys and cause swelling and other symptoms similar to those of lupus nephritis. Problems related to these drugs usually go away when the drugs are no longer used.
Read Also: Is Grape Juice Good For Kidneys
How Is Lupus Treated
Lupus is treated with drugs that block your body’s immune system. These include drugs like steroids and antimalarial drugs. Everyone is different and your doctor will make a treatment plan that is right for you. This may include a combination of therapies. Usually treatment for lupus nephritis includes:
- Diet change
Corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs: These medicines are used to calm your immune system and stop it from attacking your glomeruli.
ACE inhibitors and ARBs: These are blood pressure medicines used to reduce protein loss in the urine and control blood pressure.
Monoclonal antibodies: These are man-made proteins that act like antibodies and target only one type of substance in the body.
Diuretics: These medicines help your body get rid of excess fluid and swelling. These can be used to lower your blood pressure too.
Diet changes: Some diet changes may be needed, such as reducing salt and protein in your food choices to help control blood pressure and lighten the load of wastes on the kidneys.
What Foods Help Repair Kidneys
A DaVita Dietitians Top 15 Healthy Foods for People with Kidney DiseaseRed bell peppers. 1/2 cup serving red bell pepper = 1 mg sodium, 88 mg potassium, 10 mg phosphorus. Cabbage. 1/2 cup serving green cabbage = 6 mg sodium, 60 mg potassium, 9 mg phosphorus. Cauliflower. Garlic. Onions. Apples. Cranberries. Blueberries.More items
Recommended Reading: Is Watermelon Good For Your Kidneys