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Lupus nephritis is an immune system disease that causes inflammation of the kidney brought about by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Eventually it also affects other organs in the body such as the skin and nervous system organs.
It is believed that anywhere between 30-50 percent of those suffering from lupus will develop lupus nephritis in the first 10 years of their diagnosis. (Source: Lupus U.K published from the National Magazine.; Report Title: Lupus And The Kidneys; Author: Dr. V. Sat Reddy, Specialist Registrar in Renal Medicine, Wordsley Hospital, West Midlands ; URL: http://www.lupusuk.org.uk/latest-news/from-the-national-magazine/66-lupus-and-the-kidneys)
Symptoms of lupus nephritis may or may not include indications typical to a kidney disease. The symptoms include:
• Weight gain
• High blood pressure
• Darker foamy urine
• Gastro-intestinal disturbances
• Presence of fluids in joints
• Swelling around the eyes, legs, ankles or fingers
Several diagnostic tests are available to doctors to confirm the presence of SLE in a person resulting in lupus nephritis. These are:
1. Urine Test: The urine is tested to detect any signs of blood, leucocytes or protein therein which could signal kidney damage due to lupus nephritis. The doctor will run more tests beyond the urine analysis and exclude other infections of the kidney that may show the presence of blood or protein in the urine sample.
2. Blood Tests such as:
a. ANA titer or the antinuclear antibody. This measures the extent, pattern and amount of concentration of anti-nuclear antibodies in our blood. These antibodies are present in low concentration or titers in healthy beings but those with autoimmune diseases show a higher concentration or titer value of ANA because they are produced to attack the body’s own tissues that are healthy, thinking that they are harmful foreign material as the immune system is unable to distinguish between healthy and disease-causing materials.