Lupus nephritis is a kidney disorder stemming from systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) — an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy tissue. Lupus nephritis occurs when lupus inflames the kidneys, making them unable to function properly.

The role of your kidneys

The kidneys are the primary organs in the body’s renal system (urinary system). They are responsible for:

  • Maintaining the correct amount and type of body fluids
  • Removing waste products and toxic substances
  • Regulating the hormones (chemical messengers) that help control blood pressure and blood volume

Symptoms of lupus nephritis

Lupus nephritis usually develops within the first five years after the symptoms of lupus begin. In the early stages of lupus nephritis, there are very few signs that anything is wrong. Often, the first symptoms of lupus nephritis are:

  • Weight gain
  • Sudden and unexplained swelling, especially in the extremities (feet, ankles, legs, fingers, arms) or the eyes
  • Blood in the urine
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Foamy appearance in urine
  • Increased urination, especially at night

The Lupus Foundation of America states, “It’s estimated that as many as 40 percent of all people with lupus, and as many as two-thirds of all children with lupus, will develop kidney complications that require medical evaluation and treatment. Testing your urine is very important because there are so few symptoms of kidney disease. Significant damage to your kidneys can happen before you are diagnosed with lupus.”

Treating lupus nephritis

Although this condition is a serious complication of lupus, medications can be effective treatments. Prednisone and other corticosteroids are generally prescribed to stop inflammation. Immunosuppressive drugs may also be used (with or in place of steroid treatments).

If you or a family member is experiencing any of the symptoms associated with lupus or other kidney diseases, know that you have leading-edge kidney care close to home. With 10 locations in San Antonio and throughout South Texas, South Texas Renal Care Group is here when and where you need us. Our kidney specialists are compassionate and dedicated, yet remain at the forefront of kidney care through clinical research trials to provide the newest, most effective therapies and treatments.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 210-212-8622 or click here to use our online form.