Goodpasture Syndrome – What it is, Symptoms and Treatments of this condition. In addition, Goodpasture Syndrome is a rare and potentially fatal autoimmune disease. It occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks the walls of your lungs and the tiny filtration units in your kidneys . The disorder is named after Dr. Ernest Goodpasture, who identified the syndrome in 1919.
Without prompt diagnosis and treatment, the disease can lead to bleeding in the lungs , kidney failure, and even death.
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Symptoms of Goodpasture Syndrome: Symptoms may start slowly, gradually affecting your lungs and then your kidneys . In other cases, they can progress quickly, becoming severe in a matter of days. Initial symptoms can include:
- Fatigue, weakness or lethargy
- nausea or vomiting
- loss of appetite
- Unhealthy and pale appearance
If the disease moves to affect your lungs , the following symptoms may occur:
- Dry cough
- coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Burning sensation during urination
- blood in the urine or foamy urine
- Swelling of hands and feet
- Elevated blood pressure readings
- Back pain below your ribs
Causes of Goodpasture Syndrome: While the exact cause of Goodpasture Syndrome is unknown, certain behaviors and environmental factors can put people at greater risk. Certain respiratory infections can trigger the disease. Exposure to hydrocarbon fumes, metal dust, tobacco smoke or certain illegal substances such as cocaine can also increase the risk.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, Goodpasture Syndrome affects men more often than women and occurs most often in early adulthood or after age 60. The NFK also reports that the disease is more common in Caucasians than in other races.
Goodpasture Syndrome Diagnoses: Your doctor may use several tests to diagnose Goodpasture Syndrome . Your doctor will start with a regular physical exam, checking for high blood pressure , bleeding, and abnormal heart and lung sounds . Your doctor will also review your medical history.
Other tests can help determine whether or not you have the condition. A blood test can show the presence of antibodies (proteins produced by your immune system to fight what has been identified as a threat) that indicate the presence of the disease. It can also show a high level of waste, which could indicate kidney problems.
The presence of blood and protein in your urine can be detected through urine tests. These symptoms can also indicate kidney problems. A chest X-ray may show the presence of abnormal white spots that indicate bleeding in your lungs .
A kidney biopsy may reveal changes that indicate the presence of Goodpasture Syndrome . During this test, a tissue sample from your kidney is removed and sent to a lab for testing. Lab technicians will look for the presence of antibodies or other abnormal cells to help your doctor make a diagnosis.
Goodpasture Syndrome Treatments: Goodpasture Syndrome treatmentsinvolve medications that slow down your immune system . These may include one or more of the following:
- Immunosuppressive or cytotoxic drugs keep your immune system against antibodies that damage your lungs and kidneys (an example is cyclophosphamide);
- Corticosteroids such as prednisone help control bleeding in the lungs . These medications also suppress your immune system .
A treatment called plasmapheresis can be used to help filter out harmful antibodies in your blood . During this procedure, blood is withdrawn and the liquid portion (plasma) is removed and replaced. The “clean” blood is transferred back to your body.
Other treatments depend on your age, general health and the severity of the condition. Your doctor may prescribe additional medications to control fluid buildup and high blood pressure . In addition to medications, dietary changes, such as reducing your salt intake, can help control bloating and blood pressure .