Lupus nephritis is a common complication among individuals with systemic lupus erythematosus, which is more commonly known as lupus. Lupus is a type of autoimmune disease. It leads the immune system to manufacture autoantibodies, which instead of attacking the invading foreign entities start to cause harm to the body’s own tissues and organs. Lupus nephritis develops when lupus autoantibodies attack waste-filtering mechanisms in the kidneys.
Lupus nephritis the kidney’s ability to perform the following functions:
– Keeping blood pressure and volume under control.
– Filtration of wastes from the blood.
– Maintaining proper amounts of bodily fluids, such as salts, acids, and minerals.
– Hormonal Regulation
All these in the long term lead to kidney inflammation, which can result in elevated blood pressure, reduced kidney function, and even kidney failure.
What causes Lupus Nephritis?
The main cause of lupus nephritis is systemic lupus which causes the autoantibodies, a type of protein produced by the immune system in order to aid in the overall process of fighting off the invading foreign organisms, to attack the healthy tissues instead which results in serious damage to the body.
What are the symptoms of Lupus Nephritis?
The initial symptoms of lupus nephritis start to appear after a span of 5 years after the first appearance of lupus symptoms.
The most prominent symptoms of lupus nephritis include the following
– Swelling around the eyes and lower body due to fluid build-up
– Fever with no underlying cause.
– Presence of blood in the urine.
– Hypertension (high blood pressure).
– Increased urination, particularly at night
– Swelling or soreness in the joints.
– Muscle ache.
– Presence of protein in urine gives it a foamy appearance
– A rash of red skin on the face
– Weight gain as a result of fluid build-up
How is Lupus Nephritis diagnosed?
The healthcare professional will first conduct a physical examination, discuss the symptoms, and assess the overall medical history, apart from those, lupus diagnosis also involves the test of blood and urine which include:
– Antibody blood tests look for elevated levels of proteins produced by the immune system.
– To gauge the extent of damage done by the disease, kidney function tests are performed.
– Urinalysis, is a test for the presence of aberrant substances and wastes in urine.
– Protein test, for testing the presence of protein in the urine.
– A kidney biopsy may also be performed by the doctor. In this procedure, a small sample of tissue from the kidneys is taken to help accurately diagnose the extent of damage done to the kidneys.
Methods of treatment
There is no actual cure for lupus nephritis, the main aim of the treatment is:
– Reducing the intensity of the symptoms to the point of remission
– Preventing the condition from worsening
– Maintain the functionality of the kidneys so that the need for dialysis and kidney transplant doesn’t arise.
The most prominent mode of primary treatment involves the following:
– Medicines to regulate blood pressure: To help check the damage due to high blood pressure and loss of protein through the leakage.
– Corticosteroids and immunosuppressive medications: This prevents the immune system from causing harm to healthy cells and tissues of the body.
– Changes in the diet: Build a nutritious diet suited to one’s needs in collaboration with the healthcare professional and a nutritionist will be of great help. Generally, it is advised to reduce the consumption of salt and protein to help the kidneys perform more efficiently.
– Diuretics: These drugs are used to treat fluid build-up and swelling. Diuretics can also help to lower blood pressure.
Almost 10-20% of individuals with lupus nephritis develop kidney failure, and in that case, the following are needed
– Dialysis: It is a process that cleans the blood when kidneys aren’t performing properly.
– Kidney transplant: It is a medical operation where one of the failing kidneys is replaced with a well functional kidney from a donor and as a person can have a perfectly normal life with a single kidney, this procedure can be life-changing.