Health Library


Return to Index
by Shannon DW

Glomerulonephritis

(Glomerular Disease)

Definition

Glomerulonephritis stems from injury to the tiny tubules inside the kidneys. They filter wastes from blood and make urine. If they aren’t working well, wastes build up in the in the body.
There are 2 types:
  • Acute—starts up quickly
  • Chronic—grows slowly over time
Anatomy of the Kidney
Glomerulonephritis
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Common causes of glomerulonephritis:
  • Other kidney problems
  • Genetic mutations
  • Infections such as strep throat , HIV , hepatitis, or endocarditis
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Vascular problems
  • Certain medicines
  • Toxins

Risk Factors

Risk of glomerulonephritis is higher with:
  • A family history
  • A history of kidney problems
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Taking certain medicines
  • Exposure to toxins

Symptoms

You may not have symptoms. If you do have them, you may have:
Acute:
  • Urine that has blood or looks foamy
  • Lower amounts of urine
  • Swelling from fluid buildup
Chronic:
  • Fatigue
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of hunger
  • Muscle cramps at night
  • Swelling from fluid buildup

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may also have:
  • A physical exam
  • Blood and urine tests to look for certain proteins and other markers
  • Renal ultrasound
  • Kidney biopsy
You will be referred to a specialist for care.

Treatment

The care depends on the cause. The focus is to maintain kidney function and lower the chances of further injury. Care may involve:
  • Changes to your diet to manage protein, salt, and electrolyte balances
  • Medicines will help manage other problems such as high blood pressure or fluid build up
  • Dialysis —a machine works for your kidneys by filtering your blood
  • A kidney transplant

Prevention

To lower your chances of glomerulonephritis:
  • Follow your care plan if you have health problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • Go to the doctor if you are sick longer than expected.
  • Don’t take medicines that cause harm to your kidneys.
  • Don’t come into contact with toxins.

RESOURCES

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
https//www.niddk.nih.gov
National Kidney Foundation
https://www.kidney.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
https://www.kidney.ca

References

Glomerulonephritis (list of topics). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115425/Glomerulonephritis-list-of-topics . Updated May 26, 2016. Accessed June 4, 2018.
Glomerulonephritis. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/glomerul. Accessed June 4, 2018.
Overview of glomerular disorders. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/glomerular-disorders/overview-of-glomerular-disorders. Updated . Accessed June 4, 2018.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
  • Review Date: 05/2018
  • Update Date: 06/04/2018
Mercyhealth MyChart Sign In