Glomerulonephritis is damage to the glomeruli. Glomeruli are the tiny structures within the kidney that filter blood.
The kidneys are bean-shaped organs located in the back just below the rib cage. Each kidney is about the size of a fist. The 2 kidneys filter blood, catch needed substances and return them to the circulation, and dispose of wastes in the urine. If the kidneys don’t filter properly, wastes build up in the blood.
There are 2 types of glomerulonephritis: Acute glomerulonephritis begins suddenly.Chronic glomerulonephritis develops gradually over several years.
In some cases, glomerulonephritis leads to kidney failure.
is a severe kidney disease that must be treated with
Anatomy of the Kidney
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Factors that may increase your chance of glomerulonephritis include: Family history of glomerulonephritisThe presence of a known cause of glomerulonephritisExposure to a causeHigh blood pressure
Glomerulonephritis sometimes causes no symptoms and is discovered during a routine urine test. When present, the symptoms of acute and chronic glomerulonephritis differ from 1 another.
The symptoms of acute glomerulonephritis may include: Blood in urineFoamy appearance of urineLess frequent urinationSwelling in the morning, especially in the face, feet, hands, and abdomen
Chronic glomerulonephritis can lead to kidney failure. Symptoms may include: FatigueDry, itchy skinNausea and vomitingPoor appetiteMuscle cramps at nightSwelling of the face, feet, hands, or abdomen
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a nephrologist who specializes in kidney disease for further diagnostic testing and treatment.
Tests may include Blood testsUrine tests
Imaging tests may be done to evaluate the kidneys and surrounding structures. This can be done with: UltrasoundAbdominal CT scan
Treatment will depend on the cause of glomerulonephritis. The following steps may be taken to help kidney function or reduce further damage:
Glomerulonephritis can be treated with: Diuretics to reduce fluid retentionCorticosteroids to suppress the immune systemACE inhibitors to control blood pressure and protein excretion
Restrict salt and water intake.Restrict intake of potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium.Cut down on protein
in the diet.Maintain a healthy weight
through diet and exercise.Take calcium supplements.
If the kidneys are unable to remove sufficient waste from the blood,
may be required. Temporary dialysis may be sufficient for acute glomerulonephritis. If it leads to permanent kidney failure, chronic glomerulonephritis will require long-term dialysis or
To help reduce your chance of glomerulonephritis: Follow treatment plans for chronic disorders, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.Seek prompt treatment for a sore throat.Practice safe sex and avoid drug use to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
Glomerulonephritis (list of topics). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 26, 2016. Accessed June 1, 2016.
Glomerulonephritis. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at:
https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/glomerul. Accessed June 1, 2016.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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