The kidneys are important organs that play a number of roles in the body. In about 40% of adults who live with lupus, the disease can cause the immune system to attack the kidneys, which may lead to damage. Lupus nephritis most often develops within the first five years after a lupus diagnosis.
I’ve noticed changes in my urine that I want to discuss with my doctor. I always wonder when I see something new if it’s related to my lupus.
The roles of kidneys
Kidneys filter extra water and waste out of your blood to make urine. To keep your body working properly, the kidneys balance the salts and minerals that circulate in the blood. They also make hormones that help control blood pressure, make red blood cells, and keep your bones strong.
What is lupus nephritis?
When lupus causes the immune system to attack and inflame your kidneys, it’s called “lupus nephritis.” This inflammation can keep your kidneys from working properly. If left untreated, lupus nephritis can lead to permanent kidney damage.
Symptoms of lupus nephritis can include:
- Foamy urine
- Swelling (edema), especially in the feet, ankles, legs, fingers, arms, or eyes
- Blood in the urine
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased urination, especially at night
In the early stages of lupus nephritis, you may not have obvious symptoms. The first signs of lupus nephritis often appear on urine lab tests. This is why it’s important to continue seeing your doctor regularly, even if your lupus seems well controlled.
Get help tracking all your symptoms.
Simply share your email address and we’ll send you free tools and resources to help you identify, track, and better understand your symptoms—so you can begin to feel more confident about managing your lupus.