Glomerulonephritis

Glomerulonephritis is a type of kidney disease in which the part of your kidneys that helps filter waste and fluids from the blood is damaged.

Causes

Glomerulonephritis may be caused by problems with the body's immune system. Often, the exact cause of this condition is unknown.

Damage to the glomeruli causes blood and protein to be lost in the urine.

The condition may develop quickly, and kidney function is lost within weeks or months. This is called rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis.

A quarter of people with chronic glomerulonephritis have no history of kidney disease.

The following may increase your risk for this condition:

  • Blood or lymphatic system disorders
  • Exposure to hydrocarbon solvents
  • History of cancer
  • Infections such as strep infections, viruses, heart infections, or abscesses

Many conditions cause or increase the risk for glomerulonephritis, including:

  • Amyloidosis
  • Antiglomerular basement membrane antibody disease
  • Blood vessel diseases, such as vasculitis or polyarteritis
  • Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis
  • Goodpasture syndrome
  • Heavy use of pain relievers, especially NSAIDs
  • Henoch-Schönlein purpura
  • IgA nephropathy
  • Lupus nephritis
  • Membranoproliferative GN

Symptoms

Common symptoms of glomerulonephritis are:

  • Blood in the urine (dark, rust-colored, or brown urine)
  • Foamy urine (due to excess protein in the urine)
  • Swelling (edema) of the face, eyes, ankles, feet, legs, or abdomen

Symptoms may also include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in the vomit or stools
  • Cough and shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive urination
  • Fever
  • General ill feeling, fatigue, and loss of appetite
  • Joint or muscle aches
  • Nosebleed

Exams and Tests

Because symptoms may develop slowly, the disorder may be discovered when you have an abnormal urinalysis during a routine physical or examination for another condition.

Signs of glomerulonephritis can include:

  • Anemia
  • High blood pressure
  • Signs of reduced kidney function

A kidney biopsy confirms the diagnosis.

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