Goodpasture syndrome is an uncommon and possibly dangerous autoimmune condition. It is defined by the buildup of autoimmune proteins in the lungs and kidneys that results to damage.
If not promptly identified and treated, the condition can result to serious bleeding in the lungs, inflammation of the kidney and failure or even death.
What is the cause?
The precise cause of Goodpasture syndrome is unknown but certain environmental factors and behaviors can put one at risk. Some respiratory infections as well as exposure to metallic dust, hydrocarbon fumes, tobacco smoke or certain drugs can increase the risk.
What are the signs?
The signs might be non-specific as well as linked to both the kidneys and lungs. Remember that the damage can rapidly progress and becomes severe in just a few days.
Some of the initial signs might include:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Weakness, fatigue or lethargy
- Pale appearance
- Appetite loss
Once the condition involves the lungs, the symptoms might include:
- Coughing up blood
- Dry cough
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
If the kidneys are affected, it can trigger the following:
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Low back pain, usually beneath the ribs
- Swollen feet and hands
- Blood-streaked or foamy urine
- High blood pressure
Management of Goodpasture syndrome
If diagnosed with the condition, treatment must be started right away to lower the risk for complications. As a dangerous condition, it necessitates hospitalization usually in an intensive care unit.
The treatment includes drugs that slow down the immune system such as:
- Immunosuppressive or cytoxic drugs that prevents the immune system from producing antibodies that can damage the kidneys and lungs
- Corticosteroids such as prednisone which reduces the inflammation as well as suppress the immune system
In some cases, plasmapheresis might be required to filter any detrimental antibodies in the blood. During the procedure, blood is drawn out and plasma is removed and replaced. The filtered blood is moved back into the body.