There's no cure for IgA nephropathy and no definitive way of knowing what course the disease will take. Some people experience complete remission and others live normal lives with low-grade blood or protein in their urine (hematuria or proteinuria).
Treatment with a number of medications can slow the progress of the disease and help you manage symptoms such as high blood pressure, protein in the urine (proteinuria), and swelling (edema) in your hands and feet.
Medications used to treat IgA nephropathy include:
- High blood pressure medications. A common complication of IgA nephropathy is high blood pressure. Taking angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) can lower your blood pressure and reduce the amount of protein (albumin) in your urine.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. These beneficial fats, available in dietary fish oil supplements, may reduce inflammation in the glomeruli without harmful side effects. Get advice from your doctor before you start using supplements.
- Immunosuppressants. Corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, and other potent drugs that suppress the immune response (immunosuppressants) may be used to help protect your kidney function. But these drugs can cause a range of serious side effects, such as high blood pressure or high blood sugar, so their benefits must be carefully weighed against the risks.
- Statin therapy. Cholesterol-lowering medications may help to slow the damage to your kidneys.
- Mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept). Most studies so far have failed to show a benefit for using this medication, but it has been used successfully in some people who have persistent protein in their urine despite treatment with medications that lower blood pressure.
The ultimate goal is to avoid the need for kidney dialysis or kidney transplantation. But in more advanced cases, dialysis or transplant may be necessary.
April 19, 2013
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