Protect Your Kidneys From Allergies
When we think of allergies, we visualise skin rash, itching, fever, asthmatic attacks and swelling of the face. Not many may be aware that the kidneys too are affected by allergies. And in fact, the kidneys are often the victim of allergy and if this is not recognised early and treated, it can lead to kidney failure and even kidney shutdown in the future.
Though suspected since the beginning of the 1800s, the phenomenon of allergic kidney disease was first identified as a separate disease entity in 1898. Patients often had fever and rash with deterioration of kidney function which was preceded by an infection. Rarely, patients had bloody urine, high blood pressure and swelling of the feet. Infections were the predominant cause of allergic kidney disease right up to the middle of the 20th century, when the availability of antibiotics transformed the usual course of most of common infections. This change markedly decreased the number of infection- related allergic kidney disease, but in an ironic twist, antibiotics radically increased the rates of allergic kidney disease.
One of the chief causes of deterioration of the kidneys is chronic inflammation. Hidden food allergy and chemical sensitivity are the major causes for this. These are commonly due to intestinal dysbiosis microbes. Kidney patients are hardly ever tested for food allergy in conventional medicine and in a recent test, it was found that about 65 per cent reacted positive. Therefore, the only reliable test is the avoidance of all suspected foods and checking kidney functions after a prolonged period of abstinence. In this way, patients improved greatly.
Inflammations caused due to kidney stones or chronic inflammations triggered by hidden food allergies, both speed up the process of kidney deterioration. Also, nowadays medications are the commonest cause of allergic kidney disease, also called acute tubulointerstitial nephritis or acute interstitial nephritis. Although any drug at all can cause allergic kidney disease, the common ones are as follows:
- NSAIDS (Painkillers)
- Diuretics (Urine Stimulating Drugs)
- Gout Medications
- Anti-TB Drugs
- Anti-Acidity Drugs
Unfortunately, allergic kidney disease can develop anytime from a few days to several months after consumption of these drugs. Hence, it requires a high index of suspicion to diagnose and treat this condition. Also, though rarely, infections too can cause allergic kidney disease. These are as follows:
- Bacterial Infections – Staphylococcus aureus and escherichia coli infections
- Viral Infections – HIV, Hanta virus, cytomegalovirus and measles
- Fungal Infections
Sometimes, autoimmune diseases like SLE (lupus), sarcoidosis and sjogren’s syndrome and cancers like lymphomas and Ieukaemia can also cause allergic kidney disease. Diagnosis is confirmed by elevated eosinophils (allergy cells) in the blood and urine, elevated serum creatinine (a test of kidney function) and elevated serum immunoglobulin E (allergy protein) levels in the blood. However, the gold standard of diagnosis s the kidney biopsy wherein a small piece of kidney tissue is removed under local anaesthesia by a fine needle and studied under a microscope.
Treatment And Care
Treatment consists of removing the inciting agent- stopping the suspected drug. treating the infection or treating the underlying disease. It needs to be understood that many a time, more than one drug maybe causing the allergy. Following this, in drug-induced allergic kidney disease alone, a short course of oral steroids for two to six weeks is given (the steroids that are used are corticosteroids and not anabolic steroids that are abused by athletes and bodybuilders.)
After treatment, nearly all patients recover completely from allergic kidney disease. A very, very small proportion of people develop chronic kidney disease and progress to the end stage kidney disease. This underlines the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.
In summary, we need to be aware that our kidneys are very vulnerable to allergy from any medication and this is not necessarily dose-related. The best way to protect your kidneys from allergic injury is to avoid as many medications as possible.
If this is unavoidable, minimize the duration of medication use and do not ever self-medicate. Always follow the advice of a qualified medical doctor and check kidney function as well, when you develop an allergic rash from a medication.