Ask the Doctor
Questions about kidney disease? Risk factors? Signs and symptoms? Are you concerned about yourself, a friend or family member? Ask Dr. Spry.
Goodpasture's Syndrome is an uncommon autoimmune disease that affects both the kidneys and the lungs.
If you have the disease, usually you will:
Usually, symptoms will occur because your body is making antibodies that damage the lining of your lungs and kidneys. It is not known why your antibodies begin to attack your own body. Their normal function is to help fight infections.
This problem is most common in people between the ages of 20 and 30 or after age 60. It is not contagious and it is more common in men and Caucasians. Sometimes one will suffer from these symptoms as a result of other diseases, such as lupus erythematosus or Wegener's granulomatosis.
Goodpasture's Syndrome may cause life-threatening bleeding in the lungs, but does not usually cause long-term damage in that area. The harm done to your kidneys, however, can result in kidney failure. You may need either dialysis or a kidney transplant. If your kidney function is affected, you may:
There is a specific blood test that can show if you have this harmful antibody. Your doctor may also perform a kidney biopsy to see if the kidney tissue is damaged by the antibody.
Early diagnosis and treatment are the best ways to prevent kidney damage. Your doctor will give you several medications that will fight the harmful antibodies and control fluid buildup or high blood pressure. The doctor may suggest that you undergo a special blood filtering process (plasmapheresis) to remove harmful antibodies.
Usually, your body will make the antibodies for a short time, anywhere from a few weeks to two years. Once this stops, you should not have any more problems with your lungs. However, your kidneys may have been harmed a little or a lot. The five year survival rate is 80%. Fewer than 30% of people require long term dialysis.
Sometimes you will be asked to change your diet due to high blood pressure or a change in kidney function. Your physician, dietitian or another member of your health care team can help you understand these changes.
Not smoking and avoidance of secondary smoke is very important. Other measures that may help to keep you healthy are exercise and stress reduction.
Unfortunately, by the time you see your doctor, your kidneys may already be damaged. If the damage is severe, you may require dialysis or a kidney transplant. Before you can get a transplant, your doctor will make sure the harmful antibodies are out of your system. Medications taken when you get a transplant also help to prevent your body from making the harmful antibodies.
Rarely. There have been a few cases where two members of a family had the disease.
Yes. Currently, there is much interest in learning what causes the harmful antibodies. This work may lead to new drugs that are more helpful.
Research is being conducted to discover genetic factors that are important in the disease. Also, researchers are searching for better ways to treat the bleeding that happens in the diseased lungs.
Date Reviewed: July 2009
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©2013 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. No one associated with the National Kidney Foundation will answer medical questions via e-mail. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.