96731 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Glomerulonephritis

    (Glomerular Disease)

    Definition

    Glomerulonephritis is a kidney condition that involves 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 two 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 two types of glomerulonephritis:
    • Acute glomerulonephritis begins suddenly.
    • Chronic glomerulonephritis develops gradually over several years.
    In some cases, glomerulonephritis leads to kidney failure. Kidney failure is a severe kidney disease that must be treated with dialysis or kidney transplant .
    Anatomy of the Kidney
    Glomerulonephritis
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Causes

    Causes of glomerulonephritis include:

    Risk Factors

    A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
    Risk factors for glomerulonephritis include:
    • Family history of glomerulonephritis
    • The presence of a known cause of glomerulonephritis

    Symptoms

    Glomerulonephritis sometimes causes no symptoms and is discovered during a routine urine test. When present, the symptoms of acute and chronic glomerulonephritis differ from one another.
    The symptoms of acute glomerulonephritis may include:
    • Blood in urine (red, brown, or tea-colored urine)
    • Foamy appearance of urine
    • Less frequent urination
    • Swelling in the morning, especially in the face, feet, hands, and abdomen
    Chronic glomerulonephritis can lead to kidney failure. It may cause these symptoms:
    • Feeling tired
    • Dry, itchy skin
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Poor appetite
    • Muscle cramps at night
    • Swelling of the face, feet, hands, or abdomen

    Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a doctor (nephrologist) who specializes in kidney disease for further diagnostic testing and treatment .
    Tests may include:

    Treatment

    Treatment will depend on the cause of glomerulonephritis. For example, control of blood pressure and blood sugar with medications would be important when treating glomerulonephritis related to hypertension and diabetes. In addition, the following steps may be taken to help kidney function or reduce further damage:

    Medications

    • Diuretics to reduce fluid retention
    • Medications to suppress the immune system such as steroids
    • Diuretics to reduce fluid retention
    • Medications to suppress the immune system such as steroids

    Lifestyle Changes

    • 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.
    • 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.

    Dialysis and Transplant

    If the kidneys are unable to remove sufficient waste from the blood, dialysis 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 kidney transplant .
    If the kidneys are unable to remove sufficient waste from the blood, dialysis 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 kidney transplant .

    Prevention

    The following steps may decrease your risk of glomerulonephritis:
    • See a doctor promptly if you have a sore throat that might be due to strep .
    • To reduce the risk of getting viral infections, including HIV, use safe sex practices and avoid intravenous drug use.
    • If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, see your doctor about managing these conditions.

    RESOURCES

    National Kidney Foundation http://www.kidney.org

    National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    BC Health Guide http://www.bchealthguide.org

    The Kidney Foundation of Canada http://www.kidney.ca

    References

    Glomerulonephritis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Updated June 1, 2010. Accessed October 18, 2012.

    Glomerulonephritis. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: http://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/glomerul.cfm . Accessed October 18, 2012.

    Kumar V, Abbas AK, Fausto N, eds. Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease . 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2005.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.