What Healthcare Providers Treat IgA Nephropathy?

Learn who’s who among the specialists and providers you’ll work with when treating this type of kidney disease.

As with other types of kidney disease, a person with IgA nephropathy will work with a nephrologist, a healthcare provider that specializes in diseases that affect the kidneys.

Medically reviewed in August 2022

Immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgA nephropathy) is a disease that causes damage and inflammation in the kidneys.

When a person has IgA nephropathy, the body produces abnormal immunoglobulin A antibodies. Other antibodies attach to these abnormal immunoglobulin A antibodies, forming clusters that clog the delicate tissues and structures the kidneys use to filter blood. The immune system then attacks these clogs, and these delicate tissues become inflamed and damaged.

Over time, this will cause the kidneys to function less well, and all the other problems that occur when the kidneys do not function well—fluid buildup, hypertension, blood and/or protein in the urine. IgA nephropathy can also lead to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and kidney failure, which must be treated with dialysis or a kidney transplant.

The healthcare team for IgA nephropathy
IgA nephropathy is a lifelong condition that affects different people in different ways. A person with IgA nephropathy will require individualized treatment—this means a treatment plan that identifies and addresses a person’s individual needs and concerns.

Treating IgA nephropathy requires a coordinated effort by different healthcare providers. Here’s a look at those different healthcare providers and where and why they fit into a healthcare team for IgA nephropathy:

  • Nephrologist. As with other types of kidney disease, a person with IgA nephropathy will work with a nephrologist, a healthcare provider that specializes in diseases that affect the kidneys. Nephrologists are sometimes called “kidney doctors.” This specialist will oversee treatment and coordinate with other members of the healthcare team.
  • Cardiologist. A cardiologist specializes in disease of the cardiovascular system. The health of the kidneys and the cardiovascular system are connected. Kidney disease typically causes hypertension, or chronic high blood pressure, and people with kidney disease often have cardiovascular disease.
  • Pathologist. A pathologist is a specialist that studies tissue and fluid samples to help your healthcare team diagnose disease and guide treatment. Renal pathology is the subspecialty of pathology that focuses on the kidneys.
  • Primary care provider. This can be a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant that oversees other important aspects of health and healthcare.
  • Registered dietitian. People with IgA nephropathy must carefully monitor their intake of salt, protein, and fats, which can impact kidney function. A registered dietitian can provide education and meal planning.
  • Other specialists. If a person has other conditions along with IgA nephropathy, they will need to work with other specialists to treat those conditions.
  • Pharmacist. Different medications can be used to manage IgA nephropathy and slow the progression of kidney disease. A pharmacist is a valuable source of information on medication safety, dosing, and potential drug interactions.
  • Patient care technicians. If a person is being treated with dialysis, they will work directly with patient care technicians during those treatments. Dialysis is needed when the disease causes kidney failure.
  • Nurses. As with any condition, nurses play an important role in care and treatment.

Taking care of mental health should also be a focus. Living with kidney disease can affect how a person thinks and feels. Stress, negative moods, and feelings of sadness and anxiety can also make it more difficult to follow a treatment plan and take care of yourself. Be open with your healthcare providers about how you are feeling, and if there is anything you are struggling with.

Article sources open article sources

Mount Sinai. IgA nephropathy.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. IgA Nephropathy.
National Kidney Foundation. IgA Nephropathy.
Mayo Clinic. End-stage renal disease.
CMS.gov. End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
E. Gutierrez, F. Carvaca-Fontan, et al. A Personalized Update on IgA Nephropathy: A New Vision and New Future Challenges. Karger, 2020. Vol. 144, No. 11.
Mayo Clinic. IgA nephropathy (Berger's disease).
Prashanth Rawla and Faten Limaiem. IgA Nephropathy. StatPearls. May 24, 2022.
NCI Dictionaries. Nephrologist.
Columbia University Department of Medicine. Cardiorenal Care at Columbia.
Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Renal Pathology.
National Kidney Foundation. Health Care Team.
American Kidney Fund. Mental health and kidney disease. 
L. Parker Gregg, Joseph M. Trombello, Meredith McAdams, and S. Susan Hedayati. Diagnosis and Management of Depression in Patients With Kidney Disease. Seminars in Nephrology, 2021. Vol. 41, No. 6.
Adam S. Wilk, Ju-Chen Hu, et al. National Estimates of Mental Health Needs Among Adults With Self-Reported CKD in the United States. Kidney International Reports, 2022. Vol. 7, No. 7.

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