Monmouth's Ask the Doctor November-December 2018

Henoch-Schönlein Purpura (HSP) What it is and How to Treat its Symptoms By Abigail Urban

Henoch-Schönlein Purpura (HSP) is a disease most com- monly found in children be- tween the ages of two and six that causes blood vessels to leak, which may appear as a rash with many small bruises. The disease is caused by the immune system attacking the body’s own cells. Factors that cause this abnormal condition are unknown. Usually, early signs of HSP are any upper respiratory tract infections, such as colds. Symptoms include rashes that look like bruises or small dots and digestive issues that range from vomiting to ab- dominal pain. Joint pain, blood in the urine (Hematuria) and large amounts of protein in the urine (Proteinuria) are also possible symptoms someone may have.

Most people recover from the disease, although HSP could potentially lead to kidney disease or kidney failure in adults. Other rare complications include bowels folding so that they’re blocked and being at a higher risk for high blood pressure during pregnancy. HSP diagnosis is confirmed when there are antibody deposits on the skin. This can be detected with a skin biopsy, where skin tissue is examined under a microscope. A kidney biopsy will help determine how much the kidney is affected by HSP and what treatments may be used. A urinalysis may also be needed to determine if you have hematuria or proteinuria. There is no specific treatment for HSP. All treatments are to relieve painful symptoms. Joint pain is often treated with aspirin or ibuprofen. Corticosteroids, medications that decrease swelling and reduce immune system activity, may also treat joint pain and abdominal pain. If HSP affects the kidneys, treatments include immunosuppressive medications that stop the body from making anti- bodies. High blood pressure caused by HSP may be treated with prescribed medications that lower blood pressure and slow the start of kidney disease. These medications may include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). If you or anyone you know is experiencing symptoms associated with HSP, it is advised that you seek medical help to relieve pain and check for any kidney problems.




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