Glomeruli is the name of tiny filters present in the kidneys that are responsible for removing waste materials and excess of fluid from the blood. As the unwanted particles passes through these filters (glomeruli) it becomes the essential part for the function of kidney. If there is swelling of glomeruli it disrupts the normal purification function done by the kidneys thereby causing more damage to it.
Glomerulonephritis is the inflammation (swelling) of tiny filters called glomeruli of the kidneys that interrupt its normal function. There are many conditions and illness that can cause glomerulonephritis. It needs to be treated promptly failing which it can cause damage to your kidneys.
Glomerulonephritis can occur suddenly (acute) or as a gradual process (chronic). If there is direct damage to the filters or glomeruli it is called as primary glomerulonephritis. In case if the functions of filters get blocked due to long-term diabetes or other illnesses, it is secondary glomerulonephritis. Signs and symptoms of this disease differ as per its type. It can cause fluid retention in your body leading to swelling of legs, face and hands.
The color of the urine may be dark brown or pink indicating presence of red blood cells in it. For some people, urine can become foamy due to proteinuria (excess of protein). It can cause increase in blood pressure and extreme tiredness. Chronic form of glomerulonephritis would proceed silently causing no symptoms. This type can also cause high blood pressure, excess of urination during night time, swelling of face, foamy urine and abdominal pain.
For some people, exact cause of glomerulonephritis is not known, and it is idiopathic. Infectious diseases can affect the filters causing inflammation of glomeruli. People who have got strep throat infection or skin infection can develop glomerulonephritis, due to excess of antibodies produced by the immune system. Children with low immunity have chance to get streptococcal glomerulonephritis quickly.
For some people bacteria can gain entry into the blood causing heart problems like endocarditis. This problem can create inflammation of glomeruli. Glomerulonephritis can be caused due to viral infections like HIV or hepatitis B infection. Chronic inflammatory diseases like systemic lupus can affect your kidneys. Similarly, Goodpasture’s syndrome and IgA nephropathy can cause glomerulonephritis. Some kinds of vascular disorders like polyarteritis and Wegener granulomatosis can cause this problem.
Tiny filters of glomeruli can get scarred due to hypertension and prolonged diabetes also. In severe cases glomerulonephritis can cause acute kidney failure or chronic kidney problems and high blood pressuer. Too much of protein discharge in urine can lead to nephritic syndrome.
For some people, chronic glomerulonephritis is detected during urine analysis done for other reasons. If there are signs of dark urine or frequent urination your doctor may request for complete urine test, blood test (to check the levels of creatinine), and imaging tests like X-ray or CT scan of kidneys and kidney biopsy.
The method of treatment differs according to the type of glomerulonephritis and severity of symptoms. Some types of glomerulonephritis caused due to strep infection would resolve without any treatment whereas other types may need antibiotics. In case high blood pressure is the root cause for the problem, your doctor would prescribe suitable diuretics and ACE inhibitors for managing it.
For managing lupus and similar chronic conditions, corticosteroids are prescribed. For treating Goodpasture’s syndrome, a special method is used for removing antibodies from the blood which is then replaced with suitable plasma from the donor. Only for final stages of kidney failure, dialysis and transplant surgery is done.
Lifestyle Changes :
For people diagnosed with glomerulonephritis, follow the instructions of your dietician with regard to salt intake. Limit the intake of potassium and protein contents in food. Manage your weight and blood pressure. Do regular exercises.