Icon: Lupus Nephritis

Lupus Nephritis

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. Men are more likely to develop lupus nephritis than women.

I’ve noticed changes in my urine that I want to discuss with my rheumatologist. 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
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased urination, especially at night
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Talk to your doctor

If you think you might have kidney disease caused by your lupus, discuss the symptoms with your doctor right away. Your doctor may recommend beginning treatment as soon as possible. Reducing kidney flares may help prevent significant organ damage, the need for dialysis, or even kidney failure.

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Learn more about the basics of lupus.

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What Is Lupus?

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Types of Lupus

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Lupus Nephritis

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What Is a Flare?

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Resource Organizations