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5 Tips for Achieving Your IgA Nephropathy Treatment Goals

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Setting treatment goals for yourself can feel like a daunting task, especially if it’s for a rare condition like immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy. You probably have a lot of questions about what treatment goals are possible for someone living with IgA nephropathy. This article will share tips for setting — and achieving — your IgA nephropathy treatment goals. 

First, a brief review of the condition: IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease, is a kidney disease caused by an excess of IgA in your body. IgA is an antibody, or a protein your immune system creates to protect you from bacteria and viruses. In people with IgA nephropathy, IgA builds up in the kidneys and causes inflammation which can damage kidney tissues and lead to serious complications such as kidney failure.

Kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD), means that your kidneys cannot function well enough to keep you healthy, and will require dialysis or kidney transplantation. Other common complications include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart problems. 

As you’ve no doubt noticed, IgA nephropathy is a complex disease. That’s why it can be important to set treatment goals to reduce stress along your treatment journey. Here are some tips to help you achieve your IgA nephropathy treatment goals:

          1. Do your research. 

In order to set and achieve your treatment goals, it’s important to understand what goals are possible for people living with your condition. Many people living with IgA nephropathy are surprised to learn that remission is possible. The primary goals of IgA nephropathy treatment are to slow the progression of the disease and prevent complications.

Whether you just received an IgA nephropathy diagnosis or have been diagnosed for years, learning more about the condition — including what treatment options are available and the experiences of other patients —  can make your condition feel more manageable. 

          2. Discuss your treatment options and goals with your doctor.

Your doctor can help you better understand your treatment options, as well as recommend the best course of action to achieve your individual treatment goals. For example, if one of your treatment goals is to slow disease progression by reducing the levels of protein in your urine, your doctor may suggest combining prescription treatment with a low-protein diet.

If you live with more than one condition, your doctor can also help you determine how to set  treatment goals for IgA nephropathy that support (or at least don’t interfere) with managing your other health conditions. 

          3. Advocate for yourself. 

You know yourself better than anyone — even better than your family, friends, and doctor — which is why trusting yourself and your body is so important. If you think a treatment goal is possible, don’t be afraid to advocate for it!

Advocating for yourself (or finding someone who can help advocate on your behalf) can be an important step to setting your individual treatment goals. You want to feel like you are being heard and are a valued member of your health decision-making team. If you don’t feel like your health care team listens to you, it’s OK to seek out another opinion!

          4. Find a support system.

Managing IgA nephropathy can be incredibly challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. Whether family and friends, a specialist, a patient-led support group, or a therapist — finding people who get you and what you’re going through can be important.

If you are looking for peer support, patient advocacy organizations like the IgA Nephropathy Foundation are a great place to start. 

          5. And finally, be kind to yourself.

Setting goals can be one of the toughest challenges when you are living with a rare disease like IgA nephropathy. It’s important to be kind to yourself along your treatment journey, especially on bad days. If you are having a bad day, remember that you are not alone on this journey.

Originally published: March 31, 2023
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