Lupus and Your Kidneys

by Shaun Damon

Lupus can be described as a chronic condition in which your immune system becomes overactive and attacks the healthy cells, tissues and systems within your body. In addition to your blood, skin, joints and bones, lupus could have an adverse effect on many of your organs, including your kidneys.

How does lupus affect the kidneys?

Medical experts claim that around 50% of the patients suffering from lupus experience at least some form of kidney problems, especially lupus nephritis, which is an inflammation in the kidneys and may lead to kidney failure in the long run. According to the Hospital for Special Surgery, about 30% to 50% of all lupus patients develop this kidney complication within the first 3 years of being diagnosed.

Lupus nephritis often leads to kidney failure; however, since lupus is highly variable in nature, its exact effect on the kidneys is not always easy to predict.

In the initial stages, lupus nephritis may be asymptomatic. However, as the inflammation spreads and further impairs normal kidney function, you may notice signs and symptoms such as:

  • Edema or swelling as well as puffiness in the legs, feet and eyes
  • High blood pressure
  • Increase in the frequency of urinating
  • Frothy urine
  • Presence of blood in the urine
Because of the correlation between lupus and kidney problems, your doctor will probably evaluate your kidney function once you have been diagnosed with lupus. Some of the tests that may be recommended include:

  • Blood count
  • Urine analysis
  • Renal ultrasound
In case a problem is detected, the doctor may further recommend a kidney biopsy for lupus patients, to determine the exact extent of damage to the kidneys as well as the most appropriate treatment path.

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to protect your kidneys even if you are suffering from lupus. Given below are a few tips to avoid kidney problems with lupus:

  • Avoid nephrotoxic agents like NSAIDS
  • Cut down on your consumption of sodium
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water during the day
  • Ensure that your weight and blood pressure are within the normal range
  • Exercise for round half an hour at least 5 days a week
  • Follow a diet that is low in cholesterol
  • Maintain a low intake of protein, potassium and phosphorus
  • Quit unhealthy practices like drinking alcohol and smoking
While the tips mentioned above are quite safe if followed correctly, it is important that you check with a doctor before making any dietary and lifestyle changes.



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