Also known as: Glomerulonephritis - chronic, Chronic nephritis, Glomerular disease, Necrotizing glomerulonephritis, Glomerulonephritis - crescentic, Crescentic glomerulonephritis or Rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis
- Blood or lymphatic system disorders
- Exposure to hydrocarbon solvents
- History of cancer
- Infections such as strep infections, viruses, heart infections, or abscesses
- Antiglomerular basement membrane antibody disease
- Blood vessel diseases, such as vasculitis or polyarteritis
- Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis
- Goodpasture syndrome
- Heavy use of pain relievers, especially NSAIDs
- Henoch-Schönlein purpura
- IgA nephropathy
- Lupus nephritis
- Membranoproliferative GN
- Blood in the urine (dark, rust-colored, or brown urine)
- Foamy urine (due to excess protein in the urine)
- Swelling (edema) of the face, eyes, ankles, feet, legs, or abdomen
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in the vomit or stools
- Cough and shortness of breath
- Excessive urination
- General ill feeling, fatigue, and loss of appetite
- Joint or muscle aches
- High blood pressure
- Signs of reduced kidney function
- Nerve inflammation (polyneuropathy)
- Signs of fluid overload, including abnormal heart and lung sounds
- Swelling (edema)
- Creatinine clearance
- Examination of the urine under a microscope
- Urine for total protein
- Uric acid in the urine
- Urine concentration test
- Urine creatinine
- Urine protein
- Urine RBC
- Urine specific gravity
- Urine osmolality
- Blood pressure drugs, most often angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers
- Drugs that suppress the immune system
- Reduced kidney function
- You have a condition that increases your risk for glomerulonephritis
- You develop symptoms of glomerulonephritis
Glomerulonephritis is a type of kidney disease in which the part of your kidneys that helps filter waste and fluids from the blood is damaged.
Glomerulonephritis may be caused by problems with the body's immune system. Often, the exact cause of this condition is unknown.
Damage to the glomeruli causes blood and protein to be lost in the urine.
The condition may develop quickly, and kidney function is lost within weeks or months. This is called rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis.
A quarter of people with chronic glomerulonephritis have no history of kidney disease.
The following may increase your risk for this condition:
Many conditions cause or increase the risk for glomerulonephritis, including:
Common symptoms of glomerulonephritis are:
Symptoms may also include the following:
The symptoms of chronic kidney disease may develop over time.
Chronic renal failure symptoms may gradually develop.
Exams and Tests
Because symptoms may develop slowly, the disorder may be discovered when you have an abnormal urinalysis during a routine physical or examination for another condition.
Signs of glomerulonephritis can include:
A kidney biopsy confirms the diagnosis.
Later, signs of chronic kidney disease may be seen, including:
Imaging tests that may be done include:
Urinalysis and other urine tests include:
This disease may also cause abnormal results on the following blood tests:
Treatment depends on the cause of the disorder, and the type and severity of symptoms. Controlling high blood pressure is usually the most important part of treatment.
Medicines that may be prescribed include:
A procedure called plasmapheresis may sometimes be used for glomerulonephritis caused by immune problems. The fluid part of the blood that contains antibodies is removed and replaced with intravenous fluids or donated plasma (that does not contain antibodies). Removing antibodies may reduce inflammation in the kidney tissues.
You may need to limit salt, fluids, protein, and other substances.
You can often ease the stress of illness by joining support groups where members share common experiences and problems.
Glomerulonephritis may be temporary and reversible, or it may get worse. Progressive glomerulonephritis may lead to:
If you have nephrotic syndrome and it can be controlled, you may also be able to control other symptoms. If it cannot be controlled, you may develop end-stage kidney disease.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
Most cases of glomerulonephritis can't be prevented. Some cases may be prevented by avoiding or limiting exposure to organic solvents, mercury, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Appel GB, Radhakrishnan JAI, D'Agati VD. Secondary glomerular disease. In: Taal MW, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Yu ASL, Brenner BM, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 32.
Cattran DC, Reigh HN. Overview of therapy for glomerular disease. In: Taal MW, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Yu ASL, Brenner BM, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 33.
Nachman PH, Hennette JC, Falk RJ. Primary glomerular disease. In: Taal MW, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Yu ASL, Brenner BM, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 31.
- Review date:
- December 7, 2016
- Reviewed by:
- Charles Silberberg, DO, private practice specializing in nephrology, affiliated with New York Medical College, Division of Nephrology, Valhalla, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2008 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.