Glomerulonephritis

ExitCare ImageYour kidneys are 2 organs located at the small of your back, just below your rib cage. Each is about the size of your fist.

Glomerulonephritis is a form of kidney disease that can rapidly or slowly damage the small working units (glomeruli) inside the kidneys. This can lead to a dangerous buildup of waste products in your bloodstream.

CAUSES

The cause may be unknown. If known the cause may be:

  • A strep infection. Strep infections should be treated rapidly.

  • Germ infections (viral and bacterial).

  • Immune problems.

  • Inflammation of the blood vessels from other causes.

Glomerulonephritis can be a disease by itself. This is called primary glomerulonephritis. It can also be part of another disease, such as lupus. You can have a different form of glomerular disease from other causes such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

SYMPTOMS

Early in this disease, red blood cells and protein show up in your urine. There may also be anemia. Later, other problems may show up. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Brownish colored urine.

  • Foam in the toilet water when you are urinating.

  • High blood pressure.

  • Fluid retention. This shows up as swelling in your face, hands, feet, and ankles.

  • Feeling tired or fatigued.

  • Less frequent urination than usual.

DIAGNOSIS

Your caregiver may give you blood and urine tests, specialized X-rays, and sometimes a biopsy.

TREATMENT

Treatment and outcome depends on the type, cause, and stage of the disease.

  • Medications may be used to treat high blood pressure and increase urine production when it has been diminished.

  • Other medications may be used to treat the cause once known.

  • If kidney failure is present, dialysis may be used temporarily. Dialysis is the artificial kidney used to filter and clean the blood. If the kidneys fail completely and do not return to normal, a kidney transplant may be necessary.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Your caregiver may recommend changes in your diet. This may include reducing salt intake. This will cut down on swelling and high blood pressure.

  • Reducing protein and potassium in your diet may slow the buildup of wastes in your blood.

  • Diabetics should maintain a healthy weight, control blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. This may help slow kidney damage.

RELATED COMPLICATIONS

  • Sudden or long term kidney failure.

  • High blood pressure.

  • Nephrotic syndrome which is a condition of loss of protein in your urine. This causes:

  • Low protein levels in the blood.

  • High cholesterol.

  • Swelling of the eyelids, feet, and abdomen.

  • Heart failure.

  • Fluid in your lungs.

  • Swelling of your face, ankles, and belly.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have a new onset of blood in your urine, or the amount of blood in your urine increases.

  • You develop shortness of breath or chest pain.

  • You cough up any frothy or bloody sputum.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.