Many diseases do not present signs or they appear when it is too late, it is best to go to the doctor constantly (Infobae / Jovani Pérez)
IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease, is a kidney disease that occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin A (IgA) builds up in the kidneys. This results in local inflammation that, over time, can hinder the kidneys’ ability to filter waste from the blood.
IgA nephropathy usually progresses slowly over the years, but the course of the disease varies from person to person. In some people, traces of blood are seen in the urine without causing problems; in others, over time, the disease disappears completely; and in others, end-stage renal failure occurs.
There is no cure for IgA nephropathy , but there are certain medications that can slow the progression of the disease. Keeping blood pressure under control and reducing cholesterol levels are measures that also slow down the progression of the disease.
IgA nephropathy usually does not cause symptoms in the early stages, so the disease can go undetected for years or decades. It is sometimes suspected when routine tests reveal protein and red blood cells in the urine that cannot be seen without a microscope (microscopic hematuria).
Signs and symptoms of IgA nephropathy include the following:
Tea or cola colored urine (due to the presence of red blood cells in the urine).
Repeated bouts of tea- or cola-colored urine and sometimes visible blood in the urine, usually during or after an upper respiratory tract or other infection and sometimes after strenuous exercise
Foamy urine due to protein leaking into the urine (proteinuria)
Pain on one or both sides of the back, below the ribs
Swollen hands and feet (edema).
High blood pressure
Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice blood in your urine. Urinary bleeding can have a number of causes, but prolonged or repeated bleeding may indicate a serious medical problem. Also see a doctor if your hands and feet suddenly swell.
In the event of any discomfort, it is best to see a doctor (Getty Images)
Although the exact cause of IgA nephropathy is unknown, these factors could increase the risk of developing this condition:
Sex. In North America and Western Europe, IgA nephropathy affects at least twice as many men as women.
Ethnic origin. IgA nephropathy is more common in whites and Asians than in blacks.
Age. IgA nephropathy most often develops between the late teens and before age 40.
Family background. In some cases, IgA nephropathy appears to run in families, indicating that there are genetic factors that contribute to the disease.
IgA nephropathy is usually detected after the patient sees blood in the urine or when a routine test reveals the presence of protein or blood in the urine. These tests can help identify which kidney disease you have:
Urine analysis. The presence of blood or protein in the urine, a possible first sign of IgA nephropathy , might be detected during a routine checkup. If your doctor suspects that you have kidney problems, you may be asked to collect your urine over a 24-hour period for further kidney function tests.
Blood test. If you have kidney disease, a blood test may show an increase in blood creatinine in the waste product.
Kidney biopsy. This procedure is the only way the doctor can confirm a diagnosis of IgA nephropathy. It consists of the use of a special needle for biopsies with which small pieces of kidney tissue are extracted to be examined under the microscope.
Iothalamate clearance test. Your doctor may also recommend this test, which uses a special contrast agent to monitor how well your kidneys filter waste.
Each disease has one or more treatments to follow to combat it (Getty Images)
There is no cure for IgA nephropathy and no sure way of knowing how the disease will progress. Some people just need monitoring to see if the disease is getting worse.
Others can slow the progress of the disease and help control symptoms through a series of medications.
Some of the medicines to treat IgA nephropathy are as follows:
Medications for high blood pressure. Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers can lower blood pressure and reduce protein loss.
Omega-3 fatty acids. These fats, available in fish oil dietary supplements, may reduce inflammation of the glomeruli without harmful side effects. Consult your doctor before starting to take supplements.
Immunosuppressants. In some cases, corticosteroid medicines, such as prednisone and other powerful medicines that suppress the immune response (immunosuppressants), can stop the immune system from attacking the glomeruli. These drugs can cause serious side effects, including high blood pressure, hyperglycemia, and increased risk of infection.
Statin therapy. If you have high cholesterol, cholesterol-lowering medications can help control it and slow the progression of kidney damage.
Diuretics. These help remove excess fluid from the blood. Removing excess fluid can help improve blood pressure control.
The ultimate goal is to avoid the need for kidney dialysis or kidney transplant. But in some cases, dialysis or transplantation is necessary.