We know that fibromyalgia seems to be closely linked to autoimmune disease, which is a condition when the body’s immune system begins attacking healthy tissue. And autoimmune disease can sometimes be deadly due to a condition called glomerulonephritis. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the possibility of developing autoimmune conditions when you have fibromyalgia and be aware of how to manage them.
So, what exactly is glomerulonephritis? Can fibromyalgia lead to it? And what can you do to treat it?
What Is Glomerulonephritis?
Glomerulonephritis is a complication of autoimmune disease that can lead to a loss of kidney function. Essentially, your body’s immune system begins sending antibodies to attack your healthy tissue instead of the bacteria and viruses it usually targets. As a result, the tissue becomes inflamed and damaged. This is the root of conditions like lupus. And when in cases of glomerulonephritis, this inflammation occurs in the kidneys.
Over time, the inflammation begins to damage your kidneys and lead to the build of scar tissue. This makes it difficult for the kidneys to perform their usual function of filtering out toxins in the blood. And eventually, it can be fatal.
The first signs of this damage typically show up in urine. Your urine may be pink or dark due to the build of red blood cells in the kidneys. Or it may be frothy due to an excess of protein. In addition, you may notice swelling in the face or limbs as your body begins to retain water that can’t be passed through the kidneys.
It’s important to see a doctor immediately if you show any of these signs. Early detection is vital in preventing further damage. And if you have fibromyalgia, you should be aware that you have a higher risk of developing autoimmune diseases that can damage the kidneys.
Can Fibromyalgia Cause It?
We know that people with fibromyalgia tend to develop autoimmune conditions at a higher rate than other people. Many people have speculated that this means that fibromyalgia itself may be an autoimmune condition. But there are a few reasons to think that this might not be the case.
First, people with fibromyalgia don’t have the elevated levels of antibodies in the blood that usually comes with autoimmune conditions. This suggests that the condition isn’t related to the immune system.
Secondly, fibromyalgia doesn’t lead to the same kind of inflammation that autoimmune conditions do. This means that someone with fibromyalgia isn’t going to develop glomerulonephritis spontaneously. But they are still at risk of developing an autoimmune disease that can cause it.
We don’t know for sure why this is the case, but it might have something to do with the mental stress that people with fibromyalgia are under. Fibromyalgia leads to chronic stress and depression. And we know that this kind of mental anguish increases your risk of developing autoimmune conditions. So, finding ways to cope with the depression of fibromyalgia can help prevent the development of autoimmune disease.
But if you already suffer from glomerulonephritis from an autoimmune condition, there are things you can do.
How Can You Treat It?
The first step in treating this condition is to limit inflammation that can lead to further damage. There are a few different medications that doctors usually use to do this.
The first is a type of drug called non-steroidal anti-inflammator drugs, or NSAIDs. This type of drug includes things like aspirin and ibuprofen. They work by blocking the production of enzymes that cause inflammation. And they can also help limit pain.
The second type is corticosteroids. Corticosteroid is a hormone that the body produces naturally in response to inflammation. But your doctor can also prescribe synthetic corticosteroids to help if the natural production isn’t enough.
Finally, you might be prescribed a type of drug called an immunosuppressant. These drugs work by limiting the production of antibodies that attack your tissue.
But if the damage to your kidneys is too advanced, you may have to go on dialysis. A dialysis machine works by filtering your blood and putting it back in your body, thus performing the same function as the kidneys. But you will likely have to be on dialysis for the rest of your life unless you receive a kidney transplant. This procedure involves having a compatible donor kidney being transplanted to replace your damaged kidney and is obviously a last resort treatment.