Glomerulonephritis

Also known as: GN, acute glomerulonephritis, chronic glomerulonephritis, nephritis, nephrotic syndrome.

What is glomerulonephritis?

One of the kidneys’ main function is to remove waste products of cell metabolism and excess fluid from the body, which are excreted in the urine. Each kidney has about 1 million functional filtering units called nephrons. The glomeruli are the tufts of capillaries of the nephron which act as the filters of the blood. Glomerulonephritis is an acute or chronic inflammatory disease of the glomeruli which prevents them from functioning properly.

What causes glomerulonephritis? 

Glomerulonephritis frequently develops acutely after (a week) a bacterial infection (like a streptococcal sore throat - AGN) or as a complication of another condition, such as immune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), polyarteritis nodosa, or other vascular inflammatory disorders. In some cases, it results from a genetic abnormality that can be passed from a carrier mother to their sons, in others is an inherited form of glomerulonephritis called Alport syndrome.

What are the symptoms of glomerulonephritis? 

Common symptoms include a dark brown urine, a foamy urine, decreased urine output, fluid collecting (edema), of the abdomen, face, hands and feet, fatigue, headache, and a high blood pressure (and seizures). Other symptoms related to the underlying cause may also be present (like joint pains, and a red rash over the buttocks and legs).

What are glomerulonephritis care options? 

Treatments depend on the underlying cause and aim at slowing the disease progression and preventing complications. These include fluid restriction, monitoring the blood levels of salts, less protein intake, and medications to increase urine output and control blood pressure. Other treatments include drugs to suppress the immune system, kidney dialysis and if the disease becomes chronic and results in kidney failure, kidney transplantation.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 3/23/2018 2:18:25 PM

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