IgA nephropathy (IgAN), also known as Berger disease, is the most common type of glomerulonephritis, a group of diseases that damage the glomeruli, the tiny filtering units in the kidneys. In IgAN, the glomeruli become inflamed and damaged due to deposits of a protein called immunoglobulin A (IgA).
IgAN can affect people of all ages, but it is most common in young adults. It is more common in men than in women. The exact cause of IgAN is unknown, but it is thought to be an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues.
Symptoms of IgAN
Many people with IgAN have no symptoms and only find out they have the disease when they have a blood or urine test for another reason. However, some people may experience symptoms such as:
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Foamy urine (proteinuria)
- Swelling in the hands and feet (edema)
- High blood pressure
- Back pain
Diagnosis of IgAN
IgAN is diagnosed based on a combination of medical history, physical exam, blood tests, and urine tests. A kidney biopsy may also be recommended to confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of the disease.
Treatment of IgAN
There is no cure for IgAN, but there are treatments that can help to slow the progression of the disease and manage the symptoms. Treatment options include:
- Blood pressure medications
- Cholesterol medications
- Antihypertensive medications
- Immunosuppressive medications
- Diet changes
- Lifestyle changes
In some cases, people with IgAN may progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD), which means that their kidneys stop working properly. If this happens, dialysis or a kidney transplant may be necessary.
Prognosis for IgAN
The prognosis for people with IgAN varies depending on the severity of the disease. Some people with IgAN have a mild form of the disease and experience few or no symptoms. Others may have a more severe form of the disease and progress to ESRD.
Early diagnosis and treatment are important for helping to improve the prognosis for people with IgAN.
What can you do to manage IgAN?
If you have IgAN, there are a number of things you can do to help manage your condition and improve your prognosis:
- Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor.
- Follow a healthy diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Control your blood pressure.
- Control your cholesterol.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Get regular exercise.
- Follow up with your doctor regularly for monitoring and treatment.
If you have any questions or concerns about IgAN, be sure to talk to your doctor.