March is National Kidney Awareness Month in Canada. Lupus can cause inflammation in major organs, including the kidney. Many, if not most people with Lupus may have some involvement of these dorsal fist-shaped beans, but only 1 in 5 such cases are severe.

Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs in the middle of your back that remove waste products and toxins from your body. Lupus and kidney disease is called “Lupus nephritis.” Often the only indication of kidney disease is an abnormal urine or blood test, so it is important to do these tests regularly, even if you are feeling well. There is usually no pain associated with kidney disease, but symptoms may include swelling in the ankles.  Treating Lupus in the kidneys depends on the severity. For mild cases, treatment may be the same as Lupus patients without kidney disease. For severe cases, your doctor may recommend corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs.

This March, remember to take care of your kidneys because they’re working hard to take care of you! Here are some things you can do to keep them healthy.

  • Control your glucose levels. Try to eat less refined sugars.
  • Watch your cholesterol intake.
  • Cut back on salt (less than 2,300 mg per day)
  • Eat foods that a good for your heart (fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy foods)
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Do not smoke.

In a nutshell, the best way to prevent kidney disease and Lupus symptoms is to maintain a balanced, nutritious diet!