IgA Nephropathy is one of the most common and undetected kidney diseases and occurs when IGA – a protein that helps your body fight infections – settles in the kidneys. This disrupts your kidney’s ability to filter waste and excess water from your blood. Over time, these IGA deposits may cause blood and protein in your urine, high blood pressure and swollen hands and feet. It can appear suddenly or, most often, progresses slowly over many years and can result in end-stage kidney failure. By the time the symptoms of kidney failure occur (swelling in the hands and feet, nausea, fatigue, headaches and sleep problems), total kidney failure is near. When total kidney failure occurs, patients will need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Although the exact cause is unknown we do know that gender, age, ethnicity and family history may increase your chances of developing the disease. IGA Nephropathy is twice as likely to appear in men as women, can occur at any age but most likely strikes people in their 20s and 30s, is more common in Caucasians and Asians then in Blacks and, in certain cases, genetic factors may play a part in contributing to the disease.
There is no current cure for IGA Nephropathy. And since the disease varies from one person to another there is no sure way of knowing the course the disease will take. This makes prescribing a specific treatment impossible. What works for one person may have virtually no effect on another. One thing is certain though, that once damaged the kidneys’ cannot be repaired. Since there is no cure, treatments now focus on slowing the progress of the disease and preventing complications. Medications currently being used include high blood pressure medications, immunosuppressants, omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin E supplements.
It is estimated that as many as half of those affected with IGA Nephropathy will develop end-stage renal disease. When this occurs there are only two options; hemo dialysis for acute kidney failure and a kidney transplant for those with chronic kidney failure. While a transplant will greatly improve the quality of life, there is one large problem… there aren’t enough kidneys. And if that’s not bad enough, even with a transplant, there are no guarantees that the disease won’t return and infect the new kidney.
Research is the answer, the only answer. Research into better understanding the causes of IGA Nephropathy will lead to better diagnosis which will lead to an eventual cure.
For more information on IgA Nephropathy visit What is IgA Nephropathy