Lupus is a relatively complex chronic autoimmune disease. It consists of the immune system attacking the tissues of your own body, causing an inflammatory process. It can affect any part, such as the skin, joints, or kidneys.
Unfortunately, the incidence of lupus has increased in recent years. It estimated that it affects 9 out of every 10,000 inhabitants. The problem is that this disease can manifest itself in many different ways, so diagnosing it is sometimes involved.
Though numerous people are unaware of it, the kidneys are one of the organs most damaged by this pathology. In this article, we explain how lupus affects the kidneys and what consequences it can have.
Table of Contents
What is Lupus?
As we have already mentioned, lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease. What happens is that the immune system attacks the tissues of our own body. Despite the investigations, currently, its cause is unidentified. What known is a certain genetic predisposition to suffer from it. Besides, several factors identified that could trigger it, such as sunlight, infections, or certain medications.
It is a pathology that occurs in the form of outbreaks. That is, they are episodes in which symptoms worsen, but then disappear for a season. As it can affect different tissues, the symptoms and signs that expressed are very varied.The best-known sign is the rash on the skin of the face, in the form of butterfly wings. However, it is essential to know that not all people express it. Other symptoms are fever, tiredness, or joint pain.
How does Lupus Affect the Kidneys?
As we pointed out at the beginning, the kidney is one of the organs most affected by lupus. This condition is called lupus nephritis. It estimated that it affects almost 50% of people with this pathology. It is the main cause of mortality in these patients.
Lupus causes kidney structures to become inflamed, allowing blood to leak, called nephrons. When this occurs, the kidneys cannot properly eliminate or purify our blood, nor can they control the balance of body fluids.
Most often, kidney involvement occurs in the first five years of illness. The problem is that at first, the symptoms are very mild and nonspecific. This causes the diagnosis delayed and then the treatment to be more complicated.
What Symptoms Appear?
As the kidneys cannot function properly, what happens is that fluid retention occurs. At first, the most frequent symptoms are edema in the legs or feet, and even on the eyelids.
Besides, blood often appears in the urine or is frothy. Similarly, an increase in blood pressure occurs, and nocturia appears, which is the fact of getting up at night to urinate.
What Consequences Can it Have?
If not detected early, lupus nephritis progresses and causes irreversible damage to the kidneys. This causes chronic kidney failure that may end in the need for a kidney transplant.
However, there are more and more effective treatments available to manage this problem. For example, corticosteroids or immunosuppressants used to curb the disease. However, early diagnosis is still essential.
What we must remember is that lupus is a very heterogeneous disease and that the kidney is one of the most affected organs. For this reason, any symptoms must go to the doctor quickly.