Each kidney contains about 0.8-1.2 million nephrons and they are the functional unit of the kidney. Each nephron contains a structure called the glomerulus which are actually a complex matrix of highly specialized blood vessels through which blood passes and the waste products of the body get purified.Click Image to Enlarge UGlomerulonephritis is the term used to describe a group of diseases that damage glomeruli the functional units of kidney that filter blood.
When the kidney is damaged, it cannot get rid of wastes and extra fluid in the body. If the illness continues, the kidneys may stop working completely.Interference with Kidney FunctionGlomerular diseases damage the glomeruli, letting protein and sometimes red blood cells leak into the urine.
Sometimes a glomerular disease also interferes with the clearance of waste products by the kidney, so they begin to build up in the blood.
Furthermore, loss of blood proteins like albumin in the urine can result in a fall in their level in the bloodstream. In normal blood, albumin acts like a sponge, drawing extra fluid from the body into the bloodstream, where it remains until the kidneys remove it. But when albumin leaks into the urine, the blood loses its capacity to absorb extra fluid from the body. Fluid can accumulate outside the circulatory system in the face, hands, feet, or ankles ankles
and cause swelling.
What are the Different Types of Glomerulonephritis?
There are many types of glomerulonephritis, but for convenience it is divided into two types:Acute:
The acute form develops suddenly. You may get it after an infection in your throat or on your skin. Sometimes, you may get well on your own. At other times, your kidneys may stop working unless effective treatment is started quickly.
The early signs
of the acute disease are:Edema
: Swelling in parts of the body especially on the face, around the eyes when you wake up in the morning, and increasing in your feet as the day progresses.Proteinuria
: Large amounts of protein leak out through the urine. Urine high in protein has a tendency to froth up and this foam is noticeable in the commode when you flush it. Hypoproteinemia
: Low blood proteinHematuria
: Blood in the urine; may not always be visible to the eye, but in cases of gross hematuria
including Treatment the urine are often described as cola colored.Reduced glomerular filtration rate
: Inefficient filtering of wastes from the blood resulting in decreased urine output and increased blood urea and creatinine levels
One or more of these signs can be the first sign of kidney disease. But how would you know, for example, whether you have proteinuria? Before seeing a doctor, you may not. But some of these symptoms have signs, or visible manifestations. Signs and symptoms of kidney failure include:
- Lack of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dry and itchy skin
- Muscle cramps, especially at night.
What are the Causes of Glomerulonephritis?
Broadly we can divide the causes as follows:A. Autoimmunity:
When the body's immune system functions properly, it creates protein-like substances called antibodies and immunoglobulins to protect the body against invading organisms. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system creates autoantibodies, which are antibodies or immunoglobulins that attack the body itself. Autoimmune diseases
may be systemic and affect many parts of the body, or they may affect only specific organs or regions.B. Heredity:
Sometimes this disease runs in families –
The most common example of this kind of glomerulonephritis often shows up in young men who may also have hearing loss and vision loss and is called Alport syndrome.
Glomerular disease sometimes develops rapidly after an infection in other parts of the body. Acute post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (PSGN), HIV and some other infections.
D. Sclerotic Diseases:
This means scarring of the glomeruli by various systemic and local causes. Examples: diabetes and lupus disease.E. Idiopathic:
Cause of the disease is unknown.
How do you Diagnose Glomerulonephritis?
The first clues are your signs and symptoms.
Finding protein and blood cells in your urine is an early sign. Blood tests will help the doctor tell what type of illness you have and how much it has damaged your kidneys.Sometimes, your doctor will need to do a kidney biopsy by taking a tiny piece of your kidney with a special needle. This will help the doctor plan the best treatment for you.
How Do you Treat Glomerulonephritis?Acute Form:
In some cases it may subside on its own.Often you may need medication like steroids or other immunosuppressive therapy like cyclophosphamide, tacrolimus, mycophenolate mofetil or even temporary treatment with an artificial kidney machine to remove extra fluid and control high blood pressure and kidney failure.Antibiotics
are not used for acute glomerulonephritis, but they are important in treating other forms of disease related to infection.
If your illness is getting worse rapidly, you may be put on high doses of medicines that affect your immune system. Sometimes, your doctor may order plasmapheresis, a special blood filtering process to remove harmful proteins from your blood.Chronic Form:
There is no specific treatment for the chronic form of the illness. Your doctor may tell you to:
What are its complications?
- Eat less protein, salt and potassium
- Control your blood pressure
- Take diuretics and calcium supplements
How do you Prevent Glomerulonephritis?There are no proven strategies to prevent glomerulonephritis but the behavior patterns and lifestyle modifications that can decrease risk factors can be made, like good hygiene, "safe sex" and avoiding IV drugs are helpful in preventing infections that could lead to this illness.
If you have the chronic type, it is very important to control your blood pressure
since this may slow down kidney damage. Your doctor may tell you to eat less protein.
A dietitian who is trained to work with kidney patients (a renal or kidney dietitian) can be very helpful in planning your diet.Protein in the diet:
Your body needs protein every day for growth, building muscles and repairing tissue. After your body uses the protein in the foods you eat, a waste product called urea is made.
If you have lost kidney function, your kidneys may not be able to get rid of this urea normally. You may need to reduce the amount of protein you eat to avoid buildup of urea in your body. Protein is found in two types of foods:
In large amounts it is found in food from animal sources such as poultry, meat, seafood, eggs, milk, cheese and other dairy products.
In smaller amounts it is found in food from plant sources such as breads, cereals, grains, and some vegetables.
While you may need to limit the amount of protein you eat, it is important that you eat the right amount of protein. This helps to keep your body healthy.