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Glomerulonephritis is a type of kidney disease that damages 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.

Kidney Cross Section

Each of your kidneys contains approximately 1 million filters (glomeruli). Each glomerulus is attached to the opening of a small fluid-collecting tube (tubule). Together, the glomerulus and tubule create a nephron, the functional unit of the kidneys.

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:

  • Cola-colored or diluted, iced-tea-colored urine from red blood cells in your urine (hematuria)
  • Foamy urine due to excess protein (proteinuria)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Fluid retention (edema) with swelling evident in your face, hands, feet and abdomen
  • Fatigue from anemia or kidney failure
  • Less frequent urination than usual

Causes of Glomerulonephritis

Each of your kidneys contains approximately 1 million tiny filters (glomeruli), which attach to the opening of a small fluid-collecting tube (tubule). Each glomerulus and tubule form a nephron, the functional unit of the kidneys. The glomeruli filter your blood as it passes through your kidneys, and the filtered blood returns to your bloodstream. The tubules modify what the glomeruli filter by saving needed substances, such as protein. The waste goes to your bladder as urine through a tube (ureter) from each kidney and passes out of your body when you urinate.

Glomerulonephritis - an inflammation of the glomeruli - can damage your kidneys so that they lose their filtering ability, allowing dangerous levels of fluid and waste to accumulate in your body (called kidney failure) and depriving your bloodstream of protein, which is excreted in your urine.

Often the cause of glomerulonephritis is unknown. Known causes include :


  • Post-Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis : - Glomerulonephritis may develop after a strep infection in your throat or, rarely, on your skin (impetigo). Post-infectious glomerulonephritis is becoming less common in the United States, most likely because of rapid and complete antibiotic treatment of most streptococcal infections.
  • Bacterial Endocarditis : - Bacteria can occasionally spread through your bloodstream and lodge in your heart, causing an infection of one or more of your heart valves. Those at greatest risk are people with a heart defect, such as a damaged or artificial heart valve.
  • Viral Infections : - Among the viral infections that may trigger glomerulonephritis are the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, and the hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses, which primarily affect the liver.

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