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Glomerulonephritis (glo-mer-u-lo-nuh-FRI-tis) is a type of kidney disease that damages your kidneys' ability to remove waste and excess fluids. Also called glomerular disease, glomerulonephritis can be acute — a sudden attack of inflammation — or chronic — coming on gradually. If glomerulonephritis occurs on its own, it's known as primary glomerulonephritis. If another disease, such as lupus or diabetes, is the cause, it's called secondary glomerulonephritis. Treatment depends on the type of glomerulonephritis you have.
Complications of Glomerulonephritis
Complications of glomerulonephritis may include:
Causes of Glomerulonephritis
Often the cause of glomerulonephritis is unknown. Known causes include:
Conditions that cause scarring of the glomeruli
Chronic glomerulonephritis sometimes develops after a bout of acute glomerulonephritis. In some people there's no history of kidney disease, so the first indication of chronic glomerulonephritis is chronic kidney failure. Infrequently, chronic glomerulonephritis runs in families. One inherited form, Alport syndrome, may also involve hearing or vision impairment.
Signs & Symptoms of Glomerulonephritis
Signs and symptoms of glomerulonephritis may depend on whether you have the acute or chronic form, and the cause. Your first indication that something is wrong may come from symptoms or from the results of a routine urinalysis. Signs and symptoms may include:
Diagnosis of Glomerulonephritis
If your doctor suspects glomerulonephritis, you may undergo one or more of the following diagnostic procedures, in addition to urine testing:
Treatments of Glomerulonephritis
Treatment of glomerulonephritis and your outcome depend on:
Some cases of acute glomerulonephritis, especially those that follow a strep infection, often improve on their own and require no specific treatment.
To control your high blood pressure and slow the decline in kidney function, your doctor may prescribe one of several medications, including:
Your doctor also may prescribe other drugs to treat the underlying cause of glomerulonephritis:
Therapies for associated kidney failure
For acute glomerulonephritis and acute kidney failure, temporary dialysis can help remove excess fluid and control high blood pressure. The only long-term therapies for end-stage kidney failure are kidney dialysis and kidney transplantation. When a transplant isn't possible, often because of poor general health, dialysis becomes the only option.
Prevention of Glomerulonephritis
There's no way to prevent most forms of glomerulonephritis. However, here are some steps that may be beneficial:
When to seek Medical Advice
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have a condition that's associated with glomerulonephritis. Make an appointment promptly if you're experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of glomerulonephritis.
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