Lupus nephritis is a serious disease of the kidneys. This causes inflammation in the kidneys. This happens when lupus affects the kidneys. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that happens when the immune system attacks its own tissues. The immune system if having a problem cannot differentiate between useful and harmful substances. It attacks its own tissues, which results in inflammation, pain and damage of the tissue and eventually concerned organs. The symptoms of lupus generally include malaise, joint pain, fever and a lupus rash. Lupus nephritis is also known as SLE.
Can A Person Die From Lupus Nephritis?
Lupus nephritis is considered a serious problem, as kidneys may fail due to it and cause death. But, with a prompt and efficient treatment, in most cases the problem does not continue to result in kidney failure.
Diet And Lifestyle In Lupus Nephritis
People suffering from lupus nephritis should consider a certain diet and lifestyle change. They must drink enough fluids and keep themselves well hydrated. They must eat a diet low in sodium and particularly if one is also suffering from high blood pressure. Exercise should be carried out regularly. Alcohol consumption and smoking should be brought down to zero. Blood pressure should be maintained by taking medications if necessary. Cholesterol levels should be monitored and medications taken accordingly. Also, some medicines that can potentially harm the kidneys should be avoided. If the kidney function has already begun to get impaired, there may be a need to take a diet low in potassium and protein as well.
Treatment for Lupus Nephritis
Corticosteroids are a group of strong anti-inflammatory drugs. These can help in reducing the inflammation. These may be prescribed till the condition improves. However, these drugs can cause potentially hazardous side effects. Hence, once the symptoms start to reduce, these medicines are generally tapered down.
Certain immunosuppressant drugs can be used to treat lupus nephritis.
If the blood pressure is on the increased side, medications to lower the blood pressure may be prescribed. Sometimes anti blood clotting medicines are needed too.
In some cases, even though the treatment is carried out promptly and adequately, loss of kidney function may be seen. If both kidneys fail, there may be a need to undergo dialysis (filtering the blood through a machine to clear it of waste products).
In severe cases, when all the above treatments fail to show positive results, there may be a need to go for kidney transplant. In such cases, additional medicines may be prescribed so that the body’s immune system does not reject the transplanted kidney.
Signs And Symptoms of Lupus Nephritis
Lupus nephritis is a severe and serious problem. However, the symptoms may not necessarily be severe always. They may be as simple as weight gain. However, the most common symptom is swelling on legs and feet and ankles. Sometimes, swelling can be seen on face as well. Few other symptoms may be presented differently in different persons and also, the symptoms may be different on different days. These symptoms include a high blood pressure, weight gain, dark, foamy or frothy urine, nocturnal micturition (an urge to urinate at night). Some people may also be suffering from urinary tract infections. Some lupus medicines may also cause symptoms similar to that of lupus nephritis. However, these symptoms go away when the drugs are withdrawn.
Diagnosis of Lupus Nephritis
A person is asked about his detailed medical history. A physical examination is conducted, and the symptoms are noted and studied. Some diagnostic tests may be advised to confirm the diagnosis. These tests may include urine tests, blood tests, USG, and kidney biopsy. Kidney biopsy helps to determine the type of the lupus nephritis. The treatment is decided according to the type and hence the biopsy becomes essential.
Also, as said above, the symptoms and their severity vary greatly from person to person. Hence, the treatment is to be personalized in each case.
National Kidney Foundation: “Lupus Nephritis (Lupus Kidney Disease)”