Disease: IgA nephropathy (Berger's disease)

Overview

IgA nephropathy (nuh-FROP-uh-thee), also known as Berger's disease, is a kidney disease that occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin A (IgA) lodges in your kidneys. This results in local inflammation that, over time, may hamper your kidneys' ability to filter wastes from your blood.

IgA nephropathy usually progresses slowly over many years, but the course of the disease in each person is uncertain. Some people leak blood in their urine without developing problems, some eventually achieve complete remission, and others develop end-stage kidney failure.

No cure exists for IgA nephropathy, but certain medications can slow its course. Keeping your blood pressure under control and reducing your cholesterol levels also slow disease progression.

IgA nephropathy care at Mayo Clinic

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Symptoms

IgA nephropathy usually doesn't cause symptoms in the early stages. The disease can go unnoticed for decades and is sometimes first suspected when routine tests reveal protein and red blood cells in your urine that can't be seen without a microscope (microscopic hematuria).

Signs and symptoms of IgA nephropathy when kidney function is impaired include:

  • Cola- or tea-colored urine (caused by red blood cells in the urine)
  • Repeated episodes of cola- or tea-colored urine, sometimes even visible blood in your urine, usually during or after an upper respiratory or other type of infection
  • Pain in the side(s) of your back below your ribs (flank)
  • Swelling (edema) in your hands and feet
  • High blood pressure

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice blood in your urine. Urinary bleeding may be caused by strenuous exercise, some foods, medications or a urinary tract infection.

But prolonged or repeated bleeding may indicate a serious medical problem and should always be evaluated. Also see your doctor if you develop sudden swelling in your hands and feet.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Causes

Your kidneys are two bean-shaped, fist-sized organs located at the small of your back, one on each side of your spine. Each kidney contains tiny blood vessels (glomeruli) that filter waste, excess water and other substances from your blood as they pass through your kidneys. The filtered blood re-enters your bloodstream, while the waste material passes into your bladder and out of your body when you urinate.

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is an antibody that plays a key role in your immune system by attacking invading pathogens and fighting infections. But in IgA nephropathy, this antibody collects in the glomeruli, causing inflammation (glomerulonephritis) and gradually affecting their filtering ability.

Researchers don't know exactly what causes IgA deposits in the kidneys, but these conditions or factors may be associated with the development of IgA nephropathy:

  • Genes, because IgA nephropathy is more common in some families and in certain ethnic groups
  • Liver diseases, including cirrhosis, a condition in which scar tissue replaces normal tissue within the liver, and chronic hepatitis B and C infections
  • Celiac disease, a digestive condition triggered by eating gluten, a protein found in most grains
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis, an itchy, blistering skin disease that stems from gluten intolerance
  • Infections, including HIV infection and some bacterial infections

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Diagnosis

IgA nephropathy is often detected after you notice blood in your urine or when a routine test shows you have protein or blood in your urine. These could be signs of several types of kidney disease. To identify your problem, these tests may be performed:

  • Urine test. Blood or protein in the urine may be the first sign of IgA nephropathy. This may be discovered as part of a routine checkup. If your doctor suspects that you have problems with your kidneys, you may need to collect your urine for a 24-hour period for additional kidney function tests.
  • Blood tests. If you have kidney disease, such as IgA nephropathy, a blood test may show increased blood levels of the waste product creatinine.
  • Kidney biopsy. The only way for your doctor to confirm a diagnosis of IgA nephropathy is with a kidney biopsy. This procedure involves using a special biopsy needle to extract small pieces of kidney tissue for microscopic examination to determine if there are IgA deposits in the glomeruli.
  • Iothalamate clearance test. Your doctor may also recommend an iothalamate clearance test, which uses a special contrast agent to track how well your kidneys are filtering wastes.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Complications

The course of IgA nephropathy varies from person to person. Some people have the disease for years with few problems. In fact, many cases may go undiagnosed. Other people develop one or more of the following complications:

  • High blood pressure. Damage to your kidneys from IgA deposits can raise your blood pressure, and high blood pressure can cause further damage to your kidneys.
  • High cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol may increase your risk of a heart attack.
  • Acute kidney failure. If your kidneys lose their filtering ability due to IgA deposits, waste products build up quickly in your blood.
  • Chronic kidney disease. IgA nephropathy can cause your kidneys to gradually stop functioning. In such cases, permanent dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed to sustain life.
  • Nephrotic syndrome. This is a group of problems that can be caused by damage to the glomeruli, including high urine protein levels, low blood protein levels, high cholesterol and lipids, and swelling of your eyelids, feet and abdomen.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Prevention

Because the cause of IgA nephropathy isn't known, it's not possible to prevent it. But if you have a family history of IgA nephropathy, talk with your doctor to find out what steps you can take to keep your kidneys healthy, such as reducing high blood pressure and keeping your cholesterol at healthy levels.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Lifestyle and home remedies

To help keep your kidneys healthier:

  • Take steps to reduce your blood pressure. Keeping your blood pressure levels near normal may help slow kidney damage from IgA nephropathy. Your doctor may recommend healthy changes in your diet — including limiting your salt intake — losing excess weight, being physically active, using alcohol in moderation and remembering to take your blood pressure medications as ways to keep your blood pressure under control.
  • Monitor your blood pressure levels at home. Note each reading and bring this record with you to your doctor's appointments.
  • Eat less protein. Reducing the amount of protein you eat and taking steps to decrease your cholesterol levels may help slow the progression of IgA nephropathy and protect your kidneys.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Coping and support

Coping with severe forms of IgA nephropathy can be challenging. But you don't have to do it alone. If you have questions or need guidance, talk with a member of your health care team.

You might also benefit from joining a support group, which can provide both empathetic listening and helpful information. To find out about support groups in your area that deal with kidney disease, ask your doctor. Or contact the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) to learn about PEERS Lending Support, a national, telephone-based peer support program from NKF. Call 855-653-7337 to participate.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

Risk factors

Although the exact cause of IgA nephropathy is unknown, these factors may increase your risk of developing this condition:

  • Sex. In North America and western Europe, IgA nephropathy affects at least twice as many men as it does women.
  • Ethnicity. IgA nephropathy is more common in Caucasians and Asians than it is in blacks.
  • Family history. In some cases, IgA nephropathy appears to run in families, indicating that genetic factors may contribute to the disease.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

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