The primary function of your kidneys is to filter waste and excess fluid from your blood. There are about a million tiny filters called glomeruli within each kidney that perform this function. When these filters become inflamed, it called glomerulonephritis.
Glomerulonephritis may be due to an underlying condition – such as diabetes, lupus, or infections such as strep throat – or it can occur on its own, for unknown reasons. The condition also may run in the family.
It is critical to seek medical attention from a kidney specialist for glomerulonephritis because, when the inflammation of the glomeruli is severe or prolonged, it can damage the kidneys and lead to renal (kidney) failure, requiring either dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Signs & Symptoms of Glomerulonephritis
Glomerulonephritis can be acute (sudden and severe) or chronic (occurring gradually over time). Acute glomerulonephritis can develop quickly, with the loss of kidney function often happening within weeks or months. This causes the buildup of toxins and fluid in the body.
Signs and symptoms of glomerulonephritis include:
- Urine that appears brown or reddish (due to blood in the urine)
- Urine that appears foamy (due to excess protein)
- Swelling in the feet, legs, abdomen, or face (e.g., a puffy face in the morning)
- Overall achiness or feeling of being unwell
- High blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
A complication of glomerulonephritis is nephrotic syndrome, in which excess protein is lost in the urine, and excess salt and fluid buildup in the body. Of course, renal failure and end-stage renal disease are the most consequential of complications and may ultimately require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Diagnosis & Treatment
A urinalysis is the first step toward diagnosing glomerulonephritis. A needle biopsy of the kidney may be performed to confirm the results. Additional diagnostic tests may also be ordered.
Treatment will depend on the cause of your condition. It may include medications to treat an infection, control blood pressure and inflammation, or suppress immune system function. In some cases, a procedure called plasmapheresis may be recommended, in which your blood is filtered to remove harmful proteins.
Dietary restrictions – such as a low-protein, low-salt, and/or low-potassium diet – are also commonly included with whatever treatment is recommended. In addition, your kidney specialist may recommend that you also maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking (if you smoke), and keep any underlying conditions (especially high blood pressure and/or diabetes) under control.
Glomerulonephritis (Kidney Filter Inflammation) Treatment in Brockton & Taunton, MA
If you believe you or a loved one may have a problem with the kidneys, we urge you to contact board-certified kidney specialists like the doctors at Associates in Nephrology in Brockton & Taunton, Massachusetts. You can reach us at (508) 587-0700 or simply request an appointment now.