In the early stages of IgA nephropathy, you may not notice any symptoms. You can have the disease for years, or even decades, without knowing it. The first sign of IgA nephropathy can appear when you have a cold, sore throat or other infection. When this happens, you may notice your urine is pink or brown, which is a sign that you have blood in your urine. Some people also have protein in their urine. If you have protein in your urine, you might notice that your urine looks foamy or bubbly and that your hands and feet are swollen.
Your health care provider might notice a problem before you do. A routine urine test at a regular check-up can show signs of IgA nephropathy. If you have tiny amounts of blood in your urine, you may not be able to see it, but it will show up in a urine test. If you have IgA nephropathy, the tiny clumps of blood in your urine will be shaped like tubes, because they form inside the kidneys’ tube-like filters called glomeruli.
If your urine test shows a problem or if you notice signs of blood or protein in your urine, your health care provider may want you to have blood tests to check your kidney health.
If both your blood and urine tests show signs that your kidneys are damaged, your health care provider might want you to have a kidney biopsy. A kidney biopsy is a test to look at a tiny piece of your kidney under a powerful microscope. During the biopsy, a needle is inserted into your kidney to collect a very small sample of your kidney tissue. A doctor will look at the sample using a microscope to check for IgA nephropathy. Only a kidney biopsy can tell your doctor if you have IgA nephropathy.