What Is Glomerulonephritis ?
Glomerulonephritis is a type of kidney disease that involves the glomeruli. The glomeruli are very small, important structures in the kidneys that supply blood flow to the small units in the kidneys that filter urine, called the nephrons. During glomerulonephritis, the glomeruli become inflamed and impair the kidney's ability to filter urine.
What Are The Symptoms Of Glomerulonephritis ?
The following are the most common symptoms of glomerulonephritis. However, each child may experience symptoms differently.
Symptoms may include:
- Dark brown-colored urine (from blood and protein)
- Sore throat
- Diminished urine output
- Increased breathing effort
- High blood pressure
- Seizures (may occur as a result of high blood pressure)
- Rash, especially over the buttocks and legs
- Weight loss
- Joint pain
- Pale skin color
- Fluid accumulation in the tissues (edema)
The symptoms of glomerulonephritis may resemble other conditions and medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.
How Is Glomerulonephritis Diagnosed ?
In addition to a thorough physical examination and complete medical history,
Your child's physician may recommend the following diagnostic tests:
- Throat culture
- Urine tests
- Blood tests
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) - a test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias), and detects heart muscle damage.
- Renal ultrasound (also called sonography.) - a non-invasive test in which a transducer is passed over the kidney producing sound waves which bounce off of the kidney, transmitting a picture of the organ on a video screen. The test is used to determine the size and shape of the kidney, and to detect a mass, kidney stone, cyst, or other obstruction or abnormalities.
- Chest x-ray - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
- Renal biopsy - a procedure where a small sample of tissue is taken from the kidney through a needle. The tissue is sent for special testing to determine the specific disease.
Treatment varies depending on the cause of the disorder, and the type and severity of symptoms. High blood pressure may be difficult to control, and it is generally the most important aspect of treatment.
Medicines that may be prescribed include:
- Blood pressure medications are often needed to control high blood pressure. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers are most commonly prescribed.
- Corticosteroids may relieve symptoms in some cases.
- Medications that suppress the immune system may also be prescribed, depending on the cause of the condition.
A procedure called plasmapheresis may be used for some cases of glomerulonephritis due to immune-related causes. The fluid part of the blood containing antibodies is removed and replaced with intravenous fluids or donated plasma (without antibodies). Removing antibodies may reduce inflammation in the kidney tissues.
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