The kidneys carry out the detoxification process in the body by filtering the blood and eliminating waste from the body. This filtering process is carried out with the help of about a million tiny filters called glomeruli that are present in each kidney. Problems arise when the glomeruli become inflamed.
Chronic glomerulonephritis (inflammation of glomeruli) develops over several years, and is marked by progressive inflammation of the glomeruli. As kidneys fail to filter blood properly, excess fluid and electrolytes pass from the bloodstream to urine. Even proteins and blood might pass into the urine.
Causes of Chronic glomerulonephritis
While the acute form might develop suddenly, after an infection in the throat or skin, it might be difficult to identify the specific cause in case of the chronic form. At times, an individual might develop the acute form of the disease, and the chronic form may develop years later. In some cases, the contributing factor might be:
- Strep throat
- Bacterial or viral infections
- Diseases of the immune system such as lupus, immune lung disorder, Goodpasture’s syndrome, etc.
- Diabetic kidney disease
- Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (causes scarring of the glomeruli)
In the acute form of this glomerulonephritis, the inflammation occurs suddenly. The symptoms may vary according to the type of the condition (whether chronic or acute), and the cause. The common symptoms that are usually observed are as follows:
- Presence of blood or protein in urine
- Urine that appears foamy
- Lack of concentration
- Lethargy or sleepiness
- The patient may start having lowered sensation in limbs and other areas
- Easy bleeding
- High blood pressure
- Less urination than normal
- Muscle twitching
- Nausea or vomiting
Nephrologists decide the right treatment for a particular case, once they have identified the underlying cause and judged the severity of the symptoms. The primary aim of the treatment is to control the symptoms. According to what most nephrologists say, high blood pressure is one symptom that they have to concentrate on particularly, to keep the patient’s condition from worsening. Medications that might be prescribed for this purpose include diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and angiotensin II receptor agonists.
Underlying causes are also treated accordingly, to deal with the condition. For instance, if the cause is a bacterial infection, then antibiotics would be recommended. If lupus is found to be the underlying cause, then corticosteroids and drugs that work to suppress the immune system are prescribed.
Affected individuals are also advised to abstain from including salt in their diet. More importantly, it is also advised against the use of protein and potassium supplements. This is due to the fact that, such substances further add to the accumulation of waste in the body. For diabetics suffering from this condition, it is recommended to have a good control over their blood sugar, and maintain a healthy weight.
There is no specific way to prevent glomerulonephritis. However, to avoid complications, patients need to identify the symptoms and seek medical help at the earliest. This would help in dealing with the disease when it is still in its early stage, which in turn, would help reduce the risk of complications such as kidney failure, hypertension, high protein levels in the urine, high blood cholesterol, and edema.