Receiving an IgA nephropathy (IgAN) diagnosis, also known as Berger’s disease, can make many people feel worried about the impact IgA nephropathy will have on their day-to-day life as well as their future. These uncertainties can be overwhelming, but reviewing research and statistics can help you stay grounded. By focusing on what’s in your control, like lifestyle changes and treatment options, you can live life to the fullest.
To help you navigate life with IgA nephropathy, we’ve broken down the most helpful information about life expectancy and the best ways to manage this condition.
IgA nephropathy kidney disease causes
Managing IgA nephropathy starts with understanding the diagnosis. IgA nephropathy is a kidney disease characterized by accumulating the immunoglobulin A (IgA) protein in the glomeruli — the kidneys' filtering units. This buildup can lead to inflammation, which can have an impact on the kidneys' ability to filter waste from the blood over time.
The main cause of IgA nephropathy remains largely a mystery; some researchers believe a dysregulation of the immune system can cause it. We do know that having a family history of IgA nephropathy can increase your risk, so there may be a genetic link.
Recognizing IgA Nephropathy symptoms
Early stages of IgA nephropathy often do not cause any symptoms. Some symptoms to look out for include swollen hands and feet, protein in the urine, or blood in the urine in later stages of the condition. IgA deposits that impact kidney function cause these symptoms.
Is IgA Nephropathy Life-Threatening?
While IgA nephropathy can have a serious impact on your kidneys, it’s not always life-threatening. The progression of the disease can vary from person to person, depending on their overall health and how well they manage the condition. Some people may experience a gradual loss of kidney function over decades, while others may be able to avoid significant progression and maintain stable kidney function.
IgA Nephropathy family history
Genetics can play a role in how likely someone is to develop IgA nephropathy and how well they can manage the condition. If you know you have a family history of IgA nephropathy, you can take a proactive approach by keeping your care team in the loop so they can monitor your kidney function and make smart lifestyle choices like keeping your blood pressure and weight low.
IgA kidney disease treatment
If you’ve been diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, your care team will most likely focus on maintaining your kidney health. This often involves controlling the symptoms by prescribing medications to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation. Your care team may also recommend specific changes to your diet, like lowering your sodium intake and loading up on healthy greens. The goal is to slow the progression of the disease. In more advanced stages, you may need to undergo dialysis or get a kidney transplant.
IgA Nephropathy life expectancy
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has extensive data on IgA nephropathy. Statistically, many people living with IgA nephropathy can have a normal life expectancy, especially if they detect IgA nephropathy at an early stage and maintain their kidney health with a combination of treatment and lifestyle changes. Some IgA nephropathy patients may experience more rapid disease progression, which can lead to chronic kidney disease or renal failure, which may shorten their life expectancy.
The best way to live a full, high-quality life with IgA nephropathy is to be proactive and take good care of yourself. This looks like regular urine tests, making sure your overall health, like your blood pressure and cholesterol, is in good shape and getting good, regular exercise.
One of the best ways to move IgA nephropathy treatment forward is to participate in research studies. PicnicHealth makes it easy to safely share your health information and join studies with researchers working on the next big treatment breakthrough. Learn more about how you can take control of your health while helping patient-powered research thrive.