What is IgA Nephropathy?

When my kidney biopsy results came back positive for IgA Nephropathy I, as many people are prone to do, Googled it! I wanted to know all about this disease. What is it? How did I get it? How is this going to effect me? Will it ever go away? I searched and searched and read as much as I could. It was all so complex to me. I was encouraged to read that it could be a slow progressing disease, but discouraged when I read that there was no cure for it. One of the best and easiest explanations I have found was on the University of North Carolina's Kidney Center web page. Here is an excerpt of their definition:

IgA Nephropathy is named for the deposits of IgA that can be seen stuck in the kidney filters when viewed under a microscope. IgA is an immunoglobulin– a normal component of a healthy immune system. These components normally attach themselves to infection in the body and trigger the immune response. This works to eliminate the infection. In this disease, a defective form of IgA gets bound to another IgA molecule instead of an infection. This forms an immune complex. This immune complex can become stuck in the kidney. Here it activates the immune system just like it would if it were fighting off infection. The immune system activation causes swelling and damage to the kidney itself. A diagnosis of IgA Nephropathy requires a kidney biopsy. The sample of kidney can then be viewed under a microscope and the diagnosis confirmed.
IgA is an autoimmune disease. This is a disease in which a person’s own immune system damages their own body. Scientists know that the IgA immune complex (see above) causes the inappropriate immune response. But it is not yet known what causes the defective IgA in the first place. It likely has both genetic and environmental components. A person is born with a predisposition for the disease, and then some sort of “trigger,” for example an infection or food exposure, turns the disease “on”.

IgA commonly occurs in Caucasians and Asians. It is relatively uncommon in those of African descent. It is twice as common in males as females. Though it potentially affects any age group, IgA is most commonly diagnosed in early and middle adulthood.

What this article doesn't talk about is the secondary effects that IgA can cause in your body.
After about a year of the disease taking a slow pace, it all of the sudden started moving ahead like a freight train in my body.  I developed high cholesterol and then high blood pressure.   My kidney blood work labs seemed to worsen with every test.  My 24 hour urine tests were showing gross amounts of protein.  During this time we moved to another state,  I had to change kidney doctors and was not managed for 3 months while waiting to get in to see the new doctor.  Sometimes I think that the stress of the move, leaving 2 of my boys behind in Georgia, becoming an empty nester and my emotions played a role in the worsening of my kidneys.  I don't really know and may never know. But for now, I am being monitored very closely by an excellent Nephrologist and am surrounded by my family.  Maybe that's why we moved back to Indiana, to be closer to family for a time in the future when I may need to depend on them during dialysis or transplant.  Only God knows and I trust His timing.

For for information about IgA Nephropathy or other kidney diseases I encourage you to explore the  UNC Kindney Website at https://unckidneycenter.org/

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor.  I am not a medical professional.  NO information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.


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