IgA Nephropathy (Berger's Disease) - Symptoms

Authored by Dr Colin Tidy, 15 Jul 2017

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Dr Adrian Bonsall, 15 Jul 2017

The symptoms caused by IgA nephropathy are very variable from person to person. Many people with IgA nephropathy do not have any symptoms. IgA nephropathy is usually painless but sometimes an acute attack can cause pain over the kidneys and a feeling of sickness (nausea) for a couple of days.

However, the damage to the filters (glomeruli) of the kidneys may cause some blood to appear in the urine. Usually there is only a very small amount of blood in the urine. Therefore any traces of blood in the urine are often invisible and only detected on routine medical check-ups. In other cases there may be a lot more blood which you can see and comes in attacks every so often.

There may also be protein leakage from the kidneys. This may be slight and only detectable on urine tests. Occasionally, high levels of protein leakage cause swollen ankles, with very low levels of protein and high levels of cholesterol in your blood. This is called nephrotic syndrome.

Sometimes a flu-like illness causes an increase in IgA getting to the kidney. This can cause an increased amount of blood in the urine, which then clears after a few days.

IgA may cause the blood pressure to increase (hypertension). This damages the kidneys and may also put a strain on the heart. It is therefore very important to treat high blood pressure if it develops. Chronic kidney disease may sometimes occur. Very occasionally and much less often, IgA nephropathy may cause acute kidney injury before any other symptoms have developed.

Further reading and references

  • Lai KN, Leung JC, Tang SC; Recent advances in the understanding and management of IgA nephropathy. F1000Res. 2016 Feb 115. pii: F1000 Faculty Rev-161. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.7352.1. eCollection 2016.

  • Lv J, Xu D, Perkovic V, et al; Corticosteroid therapy in IgA nephropathy. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2012 Jun23(6):1108-16. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2011111112. Epub 2012 Apr 26.

  • Reid S, Cawthon PM, Craig JC, et al; Non-immunosuppressive treatment for IgA nephropathy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Mar 16(3):CD003962. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003962.pub2.

  • Vecchio M, Bonerba B, Palmer SC, et al; Immunosuppressive agents for treating IgA nephropathy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Aug 3(8):CD003965. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003965.pub2.

  • Cheng J, Zhang X, Tian J, et al; Combination therapy an ACE inhibitor and an angiotensin receptor blocker for IgA nephropathy: a meta-analysis. Int J Clin Pract. 2012 Oct66(10):917-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2012.02970.x.

  • Kamei K, Nakanishi K, Ito S, et al; Long-term results of a randomized controlled trial in childhood IgA nephropathy. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2011 Jun6(6):1301-7. doi: 10.2215/CJN.08630910. Epub 2011 Apr 14.

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