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IgA Nephropathy

(Immunoglobulin A Nephropathy; Berger’s Disease)

How To Say It: ne-frop-a-thee

Definition

IgA nephropathy is a kidney disease. It may start with minor changes in the kidneys. Over time it can lead to more serious problems such as kidney failure.

Anatomy of the Kidney
Glomerulonephritis

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Causes

This problem happens when IgA proteins build up in the kidneys. This hurts the filters in the kidneys that remove waste and excess water.

It may be caused by inherited genes or problems with the immune system.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in Asian people. It is also more common in men. Other things that may raise the risk are:

Symptoms

There are no symptoms in the early stages.

People who do have symptoms may have:

  • Blood in the urine—this often happens after an infection such as a cold
  • Low fever
  • Pain in the side or back
  • Swelling of the hands and feet
  • Foamy urine

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may need to see a doctor who treats kidney diseases.

Blood and urine tests will be done to look for problems with how the kidneys are working.

A kidney biopsy may be done to confirm the diagnosis. This removes and tests a small sample of the kidney.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to limit kidney damage and manage symptoms.

Treatment depends on the cause. The doctor will want to manage other health problems that could hurt the kidneys such as high blood pressure.

Options may be:

  • Medicines to help control:
    • Blood pressure and cholesterol
    • Protein loss in urine
    • Inflammation in the body
    • The immune system
  • Lifestyle changes, such as dietary changes, not smoking, and managing weight
  • Fish oil supplements to slow the disease
  • Dialysis to filter blood when the kidneys cannot
  • A kidney transplant if the kidneys fail

Prevention

There are no known ways to prevent this health problem.

RESOURCES:

GARD—Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center
https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
https//www.niddk.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

The Kidney Foundation of Canada
https://www.kidney.ca

REFERENCES:

IgA nephropathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/iga-nephropathy. Accessed December 31, 2020.

IgA nephropathy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/iga-nephropathy. Accessed December 31, 2020.

IgA nephropathy. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/iganeph. Accessed December 31, 2020.

Selvaskandan H., Cheung CK, et al. New strategies and perspectives on managing IgA nephropathy. Clin Exp Nephrol 23, 577–588 (2019).

Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD  Last Updated: 12/31/2020