Kidneys are one of the essential organs of the human body. They function as a sieve to flush out all toxins from the body. Healthy kidneys help keep blood pressure, salts and minerals in check. On top of that, they also produce EPO, a hormone that triggers the bone marrow to make red blood cells. Any condition that leads to kidney disease and ultimately failure needs to be diagnosed and treated immediately. Lupus Nephritis is one of them.
One such kidney issue on the rise is – Lupus Nephritis; basically, it means the inflammation of the kidneys that happens due to systemic lupus erythematous, commonly known as lupus. During lupus, the immune system starts to attack the body’s own tissues and organs. When lupus reaches the kidneys, they start to malfunction. This condition is called lupus nephritis. However, not all kidney problems during lupus, even with the same symptoms would fall under lupus nephritis.
Women are more susceptible to lupus nephritis than men so much so that out of 10 people suffering from it, 8 or 9 will be women.
Once lupus strikes, kidney problems start to occur shortly and that is when the symptoms start surfacing. These include:
- Swelling of legs, ankles and feet and or even in the face or hands due to fluid build up
- Sudden weight gain
- Foamy, dark urine
- High blood pressure
After a brief physical exam and evaluating the symptoms, your doctor will conduct urine test, blood test or even a kidney biopsy before making a diagnosis. Treatment plan starts with medication that would include corticosteroids which are strong anti-inflammatory drugs or immunosuppressive drugs to suppress the immune system from attacking the kidneys. Simultaneously, pills might be prescribed to regulate blood pressure. More often than not, medication is successful in combating lupus nephritis.
Diet and lifestyle changes
Certain changes in lifestyle need to be made in lupus nephritis to keep kidneys from getting damaged and for the treatment plan to be effective. You would need to
- Stay well hydrated
- Exercise on a regular basis
- Cut out alcohol and smoking completely
- Keep cholesterol levels in check
- Maintain a low sodium diet to regulate blood pressure levels
There are other serious ailments that might occur only because you are suffering from lupus nephritis. Kidney failure is one of them but if lupus nephritis is caught and treated early, there are rarely any complications. In case of kidney failure, the person might need dialysis and even kidney transplant. Other complications occur as the person becomes vulnerable to cancer and cardiovascular diseases.