Almost everyone knows that our kidneys are the filtering system for our body that removes excess fluids and waste from the blood. This process is possible because of a tiny unit found in the kidneys known as a nephron, these nephrons are millions in number and each nephron is a filter in itself. Nephrons carry out the filtering process through a process known as ultrafiltration. In this process, the blood flows under great pressure which causes the waste and excess fluids to pass through the walls of these glomeruli and hence purifying the blood.
When these glomeruli become inflamed, either suddenly, in which case it is referred to as acute glomeruli, and when this inflammation is gradual, the condition is referred to as chronic glomerulonephritis.
What causes glomerulonephritis?
There is a wide spectrum of factors like family history, and infections that can lead to glomerulonephritis. There are even cases where the trigger point of this disease is not completely understood. Let’s understand the most prominent causes of this disease.
– Inflections: The diseases which are usually caused as a result of bacterial/viral infection can be a direct cause of glomerulonephritis. The most common types of infections that can lead to glomerulonephritis include the following
(a) Viral Kidney Infections: Infections such as Hepatitis B and C, are shown to have led to glomerulonephritis.
(b) HIV: Also referred to as Human Immunodeficiency Virus, this virus can lead to not only glomerulonephritis but it can also inflict progressive kidney damage to the kidneys to the point of kidney failure.
(c) Post-Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis: An infection of the throat or some other part of the body, which was a direct result of the family of bacterias known as streptococcus, can lead to glomerulonephritis. This is not actually due to the infection itself but because of the response, our body has to fight the infections. When the antibodies produced by the immune system to fight off the streptococcus bacteria get accumulated in the glomeruli, this leads to inflammation.
– Autoimmune Disease: Autoimmune diseases can be understood as a recoil that the immune system gives in the form of different diseases when it fights the infections. The most common autoimmune diseases that can lead to glomerulonephritis are lupus, which is a chronic inflammatory disease, Goodpasture’s syndrome, which is a rare condition in which the immune system starts to produce antibodies to destroy the cells of the lungs and kidneys, and IgA nephropathy, which is caused due to the excess accumulation of an antibody known as immunoglobulin A in the glomerulus.
– Vasculitis: It is a condition in which the blood vessels get inflamed. The types of vasculitis that can lead to glomerulonephritis are polyarteritis, which is a condition that affects the blood vessels around the body including the kidneys, and granulomatosis, which is a condition that affects the blood vessels of the lungs, and kidneys.
Other conditions like Hypertension and Diabetic kidney disease can also lead to glomerulonephritis.
What are the symptoms of glomerulonephritis?
The symptoms of glomerulonephritis differ depending on whether it is acute or chronic, as well as the reason. One may not detect any signs of chronic disease. The results of a simple urine test could be the first indicator that something is amiss (urinalysis).
Glomerulonephritis symptoms and indicators may include:
– Pinkish tint in urine caused by the presence of red blood cells.
– Presence of excess protein in the urine which causes the formation of foam or bubbly urine.
– Edema (fluid retention) accompanied by swelling.
– Urinating less frequently than usual
– Cramps in the muscles
– Excess Fatigue
Treatment methods for glomerulonephritis
The following factors influence the way the condition is going to be treated:
– Whether the case is of chronic or acute glomerulonephritis.
– The underlying reason for the disease
– The signs and symptoms produced by the disease and their nature and severity
The cases of glomerulonephritis, particularly those caused by streptococcal bacteria, may resolve on their own and do not require therapy. If there is an underlying cause, such as hypertension, an infection, or an autoimmune illness, treatment will focus.
In general, the goal of treatment is to prevent any further damage to the kidneys and keep them functioning normally.
In the case of moderate glomerulonephritis, the doctor may just prescribe blood pressure medicine to lower pressure and intern the damage that this elevated pressure can induce on the blood vessels that constitute the glomeruli.
In severe cases, glomerulonephritis must be actively treated with steroids, biologic medicines, or chemotherapeutic treatments.
Methods of prevention
– Reducing salt intake to avoid edema or fluid retention in the body and hypertension.
– Reducing the protein and potassium consumption so as to reduce the overall amount of waste in the blood.
– Maintain a healthy weight.
– Consuming the medicines regularly and as prescribed by the doctor.
– For diabetic individuals, it’s advised to keep their blood glucose levels at the prescribed level
– Stop smoking.