Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Glomerulonephritis

(Glomerular Disease)

Pronounced: glom-air-u-lo-nuh-FRI-tis

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.

Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD  Last Updated: 6/4/2018