Rheumatoid Arthritis and Kidney disease

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Let’s first understand what rheumatoid arthritis is .

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a type of inflammatory disease that commonly involves the joint spaces between the small bones in the hands. 
  • The lining of the joints is damaged by the body’s immune system. These joints turn red, painful, and swollen. 
  • Over time, the bones can deteriorate and affect the fingers to become twisted or deformed.

Kidney diseases and RA connection 

Here we have discussed three points to understand what’s the connection between kidney disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis :-

  • Many people with RA have a one in four probability of developing kidney disease compared with a one in five chance for people who don’t have it.
  •  Still, the type of kidney disease is not always clear because most patients with RA and chronic kidney disease do not get a kidney biopsy. 
  • Among patients who did get biopsies, a variety of renal diseases have been found, comprising a protein deposit that causes kidney failure, a buildup of immune substances within the kidney and other diseases that impact the tiny filters in the kidneys.

Scientific reason Behind the RA-Kidney Link.

Specialists believe that RA might intensify the risk for kidney problems in two main ways.

Inflammation – Doctors believe it’s the widespread inflammatory burden of the disease that contributes to kidney dysfunction. Almost like you have increased heart disease risk because of how the inflammation affects your blood vessels, the exact is true for the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys. The more serious your disease, the greater your risk of poor kidney function.

Medications – Most of the medications taken for RA are not immediately toxic to the kidneys. Yet some can cause issues if you already have reduced kidney function.

NSAIDs– Usual doses of over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, usually don’t present a problem for relatively healthy people. Still, all NSAIDs reduce blood flow to the kidneys. This could be harmful to those with reduced kidney function, which includes many older patients.

Corticosteroids– Corticosteroids especially prednisone cause fluid retention, which can elevate blood pressure. Over time, this can worsen kidney disease.

Methotrexate– This drug is eradicated through the kidneys. If your kidneys aren’t functioning as well as they should be, they can build up in your bloodstream, potentially causing an overdose.

Cyclosporine– A potent immunosuppressant, cyclosporine may lessen kidney function. Approximately “half of the patients develop mild kidney problems while on cyclosporine and may require to modify their dosage or discontinue the medication,” according to the American College of Rheumatology. Kidney function usually enhances after the drug is stopped.

Kidney disease symptoms 

Mostly , people don’t have symptoms of kidney disease until the disease has progressed. Few symptoms, such as fatigue and appetite loss, mimic those of RA. Always tell your doctor about any recent or worsening symptoms. Symptoms of advanced kidney disease include:

  1. Reduced appetite
  2. Exhaustion
  3. Itchy or dulled skin
  4. Muscle cramps (particularly at night)
  5. Puffiness near the eyes
  6.  Shortness of breath
  7. Puffed feet and ankles
  8. Trouble in focus 
  9. Issue in  sleeping
  10. Urinating more frequently

Determining Kidney Disease Risk

There are no formal guidelines for how frequently RA patients should get tested for kidney disease. However, doctors may begin to test more often now that the risk of kidney disease is better understood. Simple blood and urine tests can specify how well your kidneys are functioning. African Americans are also about 3.5 times more apt to develop kidney disease than Caucasians, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You are more inclined to develop kidney disease if you have:

  1. Heart disease 
  2. Family history of kidney disease
  3. Diabetes 
  4. High cholesterol 
  5. High blood pressure 

Protect Your Kidneys

You can safeguard your kidneys in numerous ways:

  • Make sure your RA is well regulated. The better inflammation is regulated, the more safe your kidneys should be.
  • Discuss  to your doctor about all your treatments. If you have occurring kidney problems, your doctor may suggest lower doses of certain medications. NSAIDS are not normally advised for people with existing kidney problems.
  • Get examined regularly. It’s crucial to know whether your kidney function is close to normal. The regularity of blood and urine tests will depend on which medications you take and other health conditions you have. Speak to your doctor.
  • Regulate your blood pressure and cholesterol. People with high blood pressure and high cholesterol are more inclined to develop kidney disease.
  • Drink a lot of fluids. Hydration is vital to good kidney function, and many people don’t drink enough water.
  • Monitor your salt intake. Eating too much salt may contribute to high blood pressure, which endangers the kidneys.
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