Lupus nephritis is caused by systemic lupus erythematosus, an immune system disorder that can affect the skin, joints and organs. Lupus nephritis is inflammation of the kidneys and it can progress to kidney failure. Some people may even have to undergo dialysis or a kidney transplant. According to the National Institutes of Health, symptoms of lupus nephritis can include foamy or frothy appearance of urine, blood in the urine, swelling (edema) of any part of the body and high blood pressure. People with lupus nephritis may also experience weight gain and dark urine.
A urine test can help to identify protein or blood in the urine, which are both signs of kidney damage. A blood test may also be useful. This may identify high levels of substances in the blood such as creatinine and urea. This can indicate a decline in kidney function because the kidneys are supposed to get rid of these wastes in the blood. A kidney biopsy may be ordered so that tissues can be examined under a microscope. This can help identify the presence of lupus nephritis and how far the condition has progressed.
The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that one third of people who have lupus will develop nephritis that will require treatment. Corticosteroids may be given and in severe cases, drugs that suppress the immune system and prevent further kidney damage may be necessary. Treatment is always individualized for the patient based on test results that can show how far the condition has progressed.
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect the skin, internal organs, blood and joints. The immune system is responsible for fighting off bacteria, germs and viruses. With autoimmune diseases, the immune system becomes confused and cannot tell the difference between healthy tissues and foreign invaders. Systemic lupus erythematosus is the most common and serious of four types of lupus. There are certain factors that may contribute to whether or not a person develops a form of lupus. The disorder is more common in women, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and people between the ages of 15 and 40.