10 Symptoms of IgA nephropathy You Should Never Ignore

10 Symptoms of IgA nephropathy You Should Never Ignore


IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease, is a kidney disorder that occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin A (IgA) builds up in the kidneys, causing inflammation that hinders the kidneys’ ability to filter waste and excess fluids from the blood. This condition is one of the most common forms of glomerulonephritis, a group of diseases that damage the glomeruli, the tiny filters in the kidneys. Understanding the symptoms of IgA nephropathy is crucial for early detection and effective management of the condition.

While some people with IgA nephropathy may not experience any symptoms, others may notice signs of kidney damage and dysfunction. It is important to consult a healthcare professional if you experience any of these symptoms to receive a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Blood in Urine (Hematuria)


One of the most common and earliest signs of IgA nephropathy is blood in the urine (hematuria). This can either be visible to the naked eye, causing the urine to appear pink, red, or cola-colored, or it can only be detected through a microscope during a urine test. The amount of blood in the urine can vary, and it may come and go, making it important to discuss any episodes of hematuria with a healthcare provider.

In some cases, hematuria may occur after an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or flu, or following an episode of exercise or physical exertion. However, persistent or recurring hematuria should not be ignored, as it may indicate underlying kidney damage.

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Protein in Urine (Proteinuria)


Another common symptom of IgA nephropathy is the presence of protein in the urine (proteinuria). Normally, the kidneys filter waste products, such as urea and creatinine, out of the blood while retaining essential proteins. However, damaged kidneys may allow protein to leak into the urine, leading to proteinuria.

Proteinuria may cause foamy or frothy urine, and it can also be detected through a urine test. The presence of protein in the urine can indicate significant kidney damage and should be addressed by a healthcare professional.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)


Uncontrolled IgA nephropathy can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension), which can further damage the kidneys and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Hypertension often has no symptoms, so it is important to have blood pressure checked regularly, especially if you have a family history of kidney disease or high blood pressure.

Controlling blood pressure through lifestyle changes and medication can help slow down the progression of kidney damage and reduce the risk of complications associated with hypertension.

Swelling (Edema)


IgA nephropathy can cause swelling (edema) in the hands, arms, legs, and around the eyes due to the retention of fluid in the body. This swelling, also known as fluid retention or water retention, may be more pronounced in the morning or after sitting or standing for long periods.

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Swelling in the body can be uncomfortable and may also be a sign of advanced kidney damage. It is important to address edema with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and appropriate management.

Back or Flank Pain


Sometimes, people with IgA nephropathy may experience pain in the back or sides of the abdomen (flank pain) due to kidney inflammation and swelling. This pain may be dull and persistent or sharp and intermittent, and it may worsen with movement or deep breathing.

Back or flank pain can also be caused by other conditions, so it is essential to consult a healthcare provider for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.

Foamy Urine


Another symptom of IgA nephropathy is the presence of foamy or frothy urine, which can be attributed to the presence of protein in the urine (proteinuria). When the kidneys are unable to retain essential proteins, such as albumin, the urine may appear foamy or bubbly, especially during urination.

Foamy urine may also be a sign of other kidney conditions, so it is important to have a healthcare professional assess any changes in urine appearance.

Fatigue and Weakness


As IgA nephropathy progresses, the kidneys’ ability to remove waste and excess fluids from the body diminishes, leading to a buildup of toxins in the blood. This can cause fatigue, weakness, and lethargy as the body’s organs and tissues are unable to function optimally.

Managing fatigue and weakness may involve dietary changes, fluid restriction, and medication to support kidney function and overall well-being.

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Loss of Appetite and Weight Loss


Some people with IgA nephropathy may experience a decreased appetite and unintentional weight loss, especially as kidney function declines. This can be attributed to the buildup of waste products in the body, as well as the effects of medication and dietary restrictions on appetite and metabolism.

Addressing changes in appetite and weight with a healthcare professional can help ensure adequate nutrition and identify any underlying issues affecting overall health.

Recurrent Infections


Because IgA nephropathy can weaken the immune system, individuals with this condition may be more susceptible to recurrent infections, particularly of the respiratory and urinary tracts. Frequent episodes of infections may indicate underlying kidney dysfunction and require medical attention.

It is essential to seek prompt treatment for infections and to take steps to support the immune system, such as getting vaccinated and practicing good hygiene habits.

Changes in Urination Pattern


Changes in urination pattern, such as increased frequency, urgency, or difficulty urinating, can also be a symptom of IgA nephropathy. These changes may be due to the presence of blood or protein in the urine, as well as the impact of kidney damage on urinary function.

It is important to monitor and discuss any changes in urination pattern with a healthcare professional to determine their cause and ensure appropriate management.