IgA nephropathy

IgA nephropathy (nuh-FROP-uh-thee), also known as Berger's disease, is a kidney disease that occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin A (IgA) lodges in your kidneys. This results in local inflammation that, over time, may hamper your kidneys' ability to filter waste, excess water and electrolytes from your blood. Kidney damage may be indicated by blood and protein in your urine, high blood pressure and swollen feet.

IgA nephropathy usually progresses slowly over many years, but the course of the disease in each person is uncertain. Some people leak blood in their urine without developing problems, some eventually achieve complete remission, and others develop end-stage kidney failure.

No cure exists for IgA nephropathy, but certain medications can slow its course. Keeping your blood pressure under control and reducing your cholesterol levels also slow disease progression.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

IgA nephropathy usually doesn't cause symptoms in the early stages. The disease can go unnoticed for decades and is sometimes first suspected when routine tests reveal protein and red blood cells in your urine that can't be seen without a microscope (microscopic hematuria).

Signs and symptoms of IgA nephropathy when kidney function is impaired include:

  • Cola- or tea-colored urine (caused by red blood cells in the urine)
  • Repeated episodes of cola- or tea-colored urine, sometimes even visible blood in your urine, usually during or after an upper respiratory or other type of infection
  • Pain in the side(s) of your back below your ribs (flank)
  • Foam in the toilet water from protein in your urine
  • Swelling (edema) in your hands and feet
  • High blood pressure

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice blood in your urine. Urinary bleeding may be caused by strenuous exercise, some foods, medications or a urinary tract infection. But prolonged or repeated bleeding may indicate a serious medical problem and should always be evaluated. Also see your doctor if your urine is foamy or if you develop sudden swelling in your hands and feet.

© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of use