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How Do I Know I Have Lupus Nephritis?

Systemic lupus erythematosus refers to lupus and it is a health condition, where the immune systems start attacking varying areas in your body. Especially, patients deal with a severe complication i.e. lupus nephritis and it takes place whenever SLE forces the body’s immune system to attack kidneys, particularly nephrons responsible to filter blood and eliminates waste products.

How Do I Know I Have Lupus Nephritis?

You may identify the problem of lupus nephritis or kidney disease based on following common symptoms.

Kidney disease often remains silent with very few or almost no symptom. Furthermore, symptoms related to lupus nephritis may vary largely among different people.

However, nephrologists have identified a few common symptoms, which include the following-

Foamy Urine: Foamy urine is one of the first signs related to the problem of lupus nephritis. The problem indicates the presence of protein in the urine, because of which doctors often recommend for diagnosis procedure.

Blood in Urine: Blood in urine is another major symptom associated with the problem of lupus nephritis. In this situation, a few drops of blood pass through the urine because kidneys and a few other parts of one’s urinary tract force blood cells to cause leakage in the urine.

Dark Urine: Another symptom to indicate lupus nephritis is dark urine i.e. urine in brown, maroon or dark yellow.

Pain and Swelling: In addition, a few individuals with lupus nephritis may even experience mild to severe form of pain in their middle back or flank regions. Alternatively, others feel pain in the abdominal areas. Other than pain, you may deal with swelling in your ankles, feet and legs, while slightly in your face and hands. The problem tends to worse with progression or sitting resulting in edema problem.

High Blood Pressure: Kidney problems, including the common issue of lupus nephritis may result in high blood pressure or hypertension problems.

Frequent Urination: Some of the lupus nephritis patients experience increase in urge to urinate than before or frequent urination.

Vomiting: As your kidneys fail to remove toxins from your body, it leads to toxins buildup inside and thereby, leads to abnormal function of your liver and the overall digestion process.

Retention of Water and/or Weight Gain: Because of malfunctioning of kidneys, your body bloats to affect your hands and legs highly as compared to other body parts. In addition, as kidneys fail to remove additional water present in your blood, you experience weight gain and other related health problems.

Diagnosis of Lupus Nephritis

Once you identify any of the mentioned symptoms, you have to consult with nephrologists to undergo with either of the diagnoses, as mentioned here.

Blood Tests and Urine Tests: Blood tests allow your doctor to check the elevated levels of urea, creatinine and other waste products filtered by your kidneys. On the other side, urine tests identify the level/percentage of white blood and red blood corpuscles and protein in the urine to judge the kidneys’ functions.

24-Hour Urine Collection: This is a type of urine collection test and it measures ability of the kidney to filter waste products in a selective manner and determines the level of protein in urine during the period of 24hours.

Iothalamate Clearance Test: To judge the filtration functions of kidneys, doctors recommend for radioactive iothalamate clearance test. Accordingly, doctors inject radioactive iothalamate (a type of contrast dye) in the blood to test how the kidneys excrete it from your urine. Nephrologists consider the clearance test as the most accurate diagnose to judge the ability of kidney filtration.

Kidney or Renal Biopsy: Kidney or renal biopsy is also an accurate and invasive way to diagnose lupus nephritis or any other related kidney problem. Accordingly, doctors insert a big needle from your abdomen into the kidney to collect a sample of your kidney tissue and analyze signs related to kidney damage.


Therefore, with awareness related to major kidney problem symptoms and proper diagnoses, you will expect to identify lupus nephritis and kidney problem early to undergo with the essential treatment.


  1. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Lupus. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lupus/symptoms-causes/syc-20365789
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2017). Lupus Nephritis. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/lupus-nephritis

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 14, 2023

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