Kidney Concerns



The kidneys filter waste products from the blood and remove them from the body through urine. The most common kidney problem in people with Sjögren's is interstitial nephritis, or inflammation of the tissue around the kidney's filters, which can occur even before dry eyes and dry mouth. Inflammation of the filters themselves, called glomerulonephritis, is less common. Some people develop renal tubular acidosis, which means they can't get rid of certain acids through urine. The amount of potassium in their blood drops, causing an imbalance in blood chemicals that can affect the heart, muscles, and nerves.

Often, doctors do not treat these problems unless they start to affect kidney function or cause other health problems. However, they keep a close eye on the problem through regular exams, and will prescribe medicines called alkaline agents to balance blood chemicals when necessary. Corticosteroids or immunosuppressants are used to treat more severe cases.

Sjogren's, or any autoimmune disease, can affect the Kidneys - in my case it was stage 4 before being referred to a specialist - next stage was Dialysis - so I have put together a list of symptoms and tests.

We need to take control of our own treatment - if we leave it to the GPs it could be too late for us - you are paying the doctor so request the test you need or find yourself a GP who will work with you. Bev.

It is not uncommon for people to lose a percentage of their kidney function before getting any symptoms. There are, however, some signs that may indicate reduced kidney function and it’s important to take note of them. These can include:
• high blood pressure
• changes in the amount and number of times urine is passed
• changes in the appearance of your urine (for example, frothy or foaming urine)
• blood in your urine
• puffiness in your legs, ankles or around your eyes
• pain in your kidney area
• tiredness
• loss of appetite
• difficulty sleeping
• headaches
• lack of concentration
• itching
• shortness of breath
• nausea and vomiting
• bad breath and a metallic taste in your mouth
• muscle cramps
• pins and needles in your fingers or toes.

These symptoms are very general and may be caused by other illnesses. However, if they are related to kidney disease they may gradually worsen as kidney function declines.
If you are experiencing a number of these symptoms, or think you are at increased risk of kidney disease, ask your doctor for a Kidney Health Check.

Inside each kidney there are about one million tiny units called nephrons.
The nephrons are the part of the kidney that filter the blood. Most kidney diseases attack the nephrons.

Sometimes, end stage kidney disease can happen quickly. For example, it can be caused by a sudden loss of large amounts of blood or by an accident. This is called acute kidney injury.
More often, kidney function worsens over a number of years.

If kidney disease is found early, lifestyle changes and medication can increase the life of your kidneys and keep you feeling your best for as long as possible.

What is a Kidney Health Check?
If you have one or more risk factors for chronic kidney disease it is recommended that you see your doctor for a Kidney Health Check every two years.

If you have diabetes or high blood pressure it is recommended that you have a Kidney Health Check every year.

The Kidney Health Check has three tests:
• A blood test to find out the level of waste products in your blood and calculate what’s called your estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).
• A urine test to check for albumin (a type of protein) or blood in your urine.
• A blood pressure test, as kidney disease causes high blood pressure and high blood pressure causes kidney disease.
If kidney disease is suspected, your doctor may also organise a renal ultrasound scan. This test is taken to show the size of your kidneys, locate kidney stones or tumours, and find any problems in the structure of your kidneys and urinary tract.
Following your Kidney Health Check and depending on your circumstances, other tests and procedures may be required.
These tests may be carried out by your doctor or you may be referred to a kidney specialist (nephrologist).