Glomerulonephritis, types, causes, Diagnosis and Symptoms

A glomerulonephritis is a  group of diseases characterized by damage or inflammation of the  glomeruli. Glomeruli are tiny filters present in our kidney made up of tiny blood vessels that filter blood. They remove extra fluids, electrolytes, and wastes and pass them into the urine.

When these glomeruli are damaged working of the kidney is interrupted. This condition may progress to kidney failure. Glomerulonephritis may be primary that occurs on its own or may be secondary to diseases such as diabetes.

Image Source: nephcure.org

Image Source: nephcure.org

Types of glomerulonephritis:

  1. Acute
  2. Chronic

Acute glomerulonephritis:

This form suddenly develops following an infection due to the overreaction of the immune system.

Causes-

  1. Abscessed tooth.
  2. Strep throat.
  3. Systemic lupus erythematosus.
  4. Goodpasture syndrome where antibodies produced by the body attacks, kidney, and lungs.
  5. Amyloidosis where organs and tissues are harmed by abnormal proteins.
  6. Wegener’s granulomatosis where there is inflammation of blood vessels.
  7. polyarteritis nodosa where cells start attacking arteries.

Symptoms-

  1. Morning, puffiness of the face.
  2. Passing less urine than normal.
  3. The presence of blood in urine or brown urine.
  4. Shortness of breath and cough.
  5. High blood pressure.

Chronic glomerulonephritis:

Chronic glomerulonephritis may develop slowly over the years and finally leads to kidney failure.

Early symptoms include:

  1. Blood in urine.
  2. Protein in the urine.
  3. Swelling of face and ankles.
  4. Foamy urine due to the presence of excess protein.
  5. Frequent urination, especially at night.
  6. High blood pressure.
  7. Pain in abdomen and
  8. Frequent bleeding from the nose.

Kidney failure symptoms:

  1. Lack of appetite.
  2. Muscle cramps at night.
  3. Difficulty in sleeping.
  4. Skin becomes dry with intense itching.
  5. Fatigue.
  6. Nausea and vomiting.

Diagnosis of glomerulonephritis –

Analysis of the urine is done to check the following:

  1. The presence of blood in the urine.
  2. The presence of protein albumin.
  3. Urine concentration.
  4. Creatinine test.
  5. Urine osmolarity and
  6. Urine specific gravity.

The blood test is done to check:

  1. Red blood cell count- that may decrease in glomerulonephritis.
  2. Abnormal level of albumin in the blood.
  3. Blood urea nitrogen.
  4. Creatinine level in the blood that may be abnormally high in glomerulonephritis.

Immunological tests may be done to check the following sign and symptoms of immune system damage:

  1. Antiglomerular basement membrane antibodies.
  2. Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies.
  3. Antinuclear antibodies.
  4. Complement levels.

Kidney biopsy, kidney ultrasound, kidney CT scan and intravenous pyelogram are done to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment:

Treatment of glomerulonephritis depends on the type and cause. Your doctor may prescribe drugs, according to the underlying cause. He may add few medications  for symptomatic  relief and may advise:

  1. Controlling blood pressure – It is hard to control blood pressure when your kidneys are not working properly so take the medicines prescribed by your doctor to control blood pressure.
  2. Diuretics to decrease the swelling.
  3. Calcium supplements.
  4. Reduce the intake of sodium, protein and potassium.

Glomerulonephritis  is a very serious illness that may be life threatening. Immediately see your doctor for proper treatment if you have any concerning signs and symptoms mentioned above.

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