Glomerulonephritis (GN) is a condition wherein the tubular structures of the kidneys called glomeruli experience a high level of inflammation.
Glomeruli present in the kidneys act as filters, efficiently eliminating wastes, electrolytes and surplus fluid from blood and then passage them through to urine, which are then eventually excreted out from the body.
Hence, a situation of glomerulonephritis hinders this crucial waste removal process, thus leading to accumulation of excess wastes and toxins in the bloodstream and kidneys.
Glomerulonephritis can occur suddenly i.e. Acute GN or develop in the system over a period of time i.e. Chronic GN.
Various infectious diseases and underlying chronic conditions can cause glomerulonephritis. These include:
- Streptococcal infection
- Bacterial endocarditis
- Disorders triggered by viruses like HIV, hepatitis etc.
- Heart and blood vessel disorders like polyarteritis
- High blood pressure
- Diabetic nephropathy Also Read: The 5 Stages Of Diabetic Nephropathy
Also, chronic glomerulonephritis can be passed on from one generation to the next, thus children could possibly inherit this kidney disorder from either parent in some cases.
In severe instances, glomerulonephritis can ultimately cause kidney failure. Hence it is advised to immediately seek medical care once any signs of GN are recognized in a person. Also Read: Kidney Failure: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
The characteristic symptoms displayed by a person with glomerulonephritis consist of the following:
- Reddish pink or brown coloured urine discharge due to the presence of red blood cells in the urine, termed as hematuria
- Urine appears to be foamy as a result of high protein content, also called proteinuria
- Fluctuations in blood pressure above the normal range
- Palpitations and irregular heartbeats
- Fluid retention in certain parts of the body, like hands and feet, known as edema
Diagnosis And Treatment
The doctor who specialises in kidney-related problems, known as a nephrologist, initially performs an analysis of the blood and urine of the patient. He or she collects a sample of the patient's blood and urine, to look for the presence of any waste materials, excess nitrogen content due to urea, red blood cells or creatinine, if any. This helps to identify the nature of glomerulonephritis in the body of the patient.
The healthcare professional also conducts imaging scans like X-rays or ultrasounds to determine the extent of damage to the kidneys, besides a kidney biopsy, to examine the kidney tissue under a microscope, to figure out the exact cause of GN.
Once the diagnosis of glomerulonephritis is confirmed and its precise causes have been detected, appropriate treatment measures are given to rectify the condition in the kidney of the patient.
Treatment usually involves prescription medicines such as antibiotics or antivirals to manage the underlying infections triggering GN in the patient. If the kidney damage is not extreme, then dialysis is also given to the patient, to remove excess wastes from bloodstream and help detoxify the system.
However, in grave instances of GN where kidneys have undergone significant damage, then the best treatment measure is to replace it with a healthy kidney from a donor, by means of a kidney transplant surgery. This will ensure the optimal functioning of kidneys in the patient and aid in their complete recovery.