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Lupus-related Kidney Disease

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation in any part of the body, most commonly skin, joints, and internal organs. Complications from lupus can cause long term damage to your kidneys.



What is lupus?  

Lupus is a disease that can be limited to your skin in some patients, and in others cause effect organs such as your brain, heart and kidneys. In some cases, this damage can be severe depending on how aggressive the disease is; every patient is different.

What is lupus nephritis? 

Lupus Nephritis is the term used to describe involvement of the kidneys. Lupus nephritis causes inflammation (swelling or scarring) of the small blood vessels that filter waste products we all make every day, causing them to reduce or stop functioning.

Some of the findings that may raise suspicion of lupus nephritis include blood or protein in your urine (noted on urine studies done by your doctor) and/or abnormalities of your kidney function. There are blood tests that can help to secure the diagnosis, though sometimes a biopsy of the kidney is required.

Symptoms of Lupus Nephritis 

Symptoms of lupus-related kidney disease can include:


  • Sudden, unexplained swelling in the hands /feet
  • Blood in urine
  • Flank pain
  • Muscle aches/joint swelling
  • High blood pressure


What to Expect from Lupus Nephritis Treatment 

It is important to see a kidney doctor if lupus has involved your kidneys because in many cases treatments are available to help slow down the disease and stop kidney damage which may be irreversible otherwise. This is a complex process and requires collaboration with your rheumatologist and nephrologist in most cases.

Treatments do require close monitoring and your nephrologist will discuss the best strategy for treatment and potential side effects of the treatments.


How Lupus Affects the Renal (Kidney) System

Go to Lupus Foundation of America

Lupus FAQs

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