Working with Your Treatment Team
As with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), living with lupus nephritis requires visits with appropriate specialists to manage different parts of your disease. Managing lupus nephritis is a team effort, and there may be many healthcare professionals you interact with throughout your journey. It's important to keep everyone on your treatment team informed and on the same page.
There are two clinical specialists you will most likely interact with on a regular basis:
- Rheumatologist: a doctor who treats diseases of the joints and muscles, including lupus. Often, the rheumatologist is the specialist who diagnoses lupus and lupus nephritis. Patients with lupus nephritis visit with a rheumatologist 33 times more frequently than the general public.
- Nephrologist: a doctor who treats kidney problems. Often, the nephrologist is the doctor who confirms the diagnosis of lupus nephritis through a kidney biopsy. Patients with lupus nephritis visit with a nephrologist 42 times more frequently than the general public.
Below is a list of other healthcare professionals you may interact with from time to time:
- Primary Care Provider/Internal Medicine Physician: doctor you see for regular checkups and less active lupus disease
- Emergency Physician: doctor who works in an emergency department to care for acutely ill patients
- Dermatologist: doctor who treats skin problems
- Neurologist: doctor who treats problems with the nerves and nervous system
- Cardiologist: doctor who treats problems with the heart and blood vessels
- Pathologist: specialist in the structural and functional changes caused by diseases
- Radiologist: specialist in the use and interpretation of x-ray photography
- Pharmacist: person who fills your prescriptions, watches for drug interactions, and gives advice on how to take your medicines properly
- Physical Therapist: person who recommends and teaches exercises that can help you manage muscle and joint pain
- Social Worker/Psychiatrist/Psychologist/Therapist: people who can provide emotional support and help you cope with lupus and lupus nephritis
- Dietitian/Nutritionist: a licensed nutrition expert who can offer guidance and advice on healthy eating and meal planning
Helpful Tips for Working with Your Team
How can you make the most of working with your healthcare team? Follow these tips, provided by people living with lupus nephritis:
- Keep track of everything. This makes it easier to communicate with your team members and saves you from having to start from scratch with each new healthcare professional you encounter. Keep track of important information, such as:
- Medical appointments and hospital visits
- Your symptoms/how you're feeling over time
- Blood work/lab results
- A list of all your medications (including vitamins, supplements, and over-the-counter medications)
- Insurance paperwork
- Bring a trusted friend or family member with you to your doctors' appointments. It helps to have another set of eyes and ears — someone who can ask questions, take notes, provide moral support, and remember important details.
Guide to Talking with Your Doctor
Make the most of your healthcare appointments. Download this helpful discussion guide and bring it with you to your next doctor's visit.
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