What is Renal Replacement Therapy?
Kidneys are vital organs, and damage done to them affects the entire body. Lupus Nephritis (LN) is the term for when inflammation caused by lupus severely damages structures in the kidneys known as nephrons. This kidney damage, which occurs in about 40-60% people with lupus, can lead to a loss of kidney function. Lupus causes other damage to the kidneys as well, including urinary tract infections, but in all cases, kidney damage and potential kidney failure is the source of the most serious symptoms of lupus.
The symptoms of lupus nephritis include fluid retention and swelling, joint pain, muscle pain, fever, high blood pressure, abnormal urine, and even the well-known malar rash of lupus. You can read more about kidney disease and lupus here.
Lupus nephritis is very serious, but the treatments for it are very effective. 10-30% of people with LN develop end-stage renal disease and kidney failure, which increases their risk of death. As long as they do not enter renal failure, however, people with lupus can live normal, relatively healthy lives.
Renal replacement therapies are used to maintain their health and offset the damage to the body caused by nonfunctional kidneys. Dialysis is a form of renal replacement therapy that helps the body remove waste, salt, and extra water in the bloodstream. It also helps balance potassium and sodium, important chemicals for the body, and helps maintain blood pressure. You can read more about it here.