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Specialists in the Field of Glomerulonephritis
Information About the Field of Glomerulonephritis
What us glomerulonephritis?
Glomerulonephritis refers to an inflammation of the kidney’s glomeruli, that usually affects both sides and can significantly impair a patients’ kidney function. Many forms of glomerulonephritis are known and they are collectively classified under this umbrella term.
What can cause glomerulonephritis?
This condition can arise acutely or progress to a chronic form and it may be caused by factors within or outside of the kidneys. According to this, glomerulonephritis is classified into following types:
- Primary glomerulonephritis: The primary form arises from the kidneys themselves and no associated underlying disease is known. Usually, patients in this group suffer from an autoimmune disease which presents with its first manifestation and involves a disorder of immune cells that attack a patients‘ own kidneys.
- Secondary glomerulonephritis: In this case, a known underlying disease or another systemic cause is responsible for damaging the kidneys and causing inflammation. Most frequently, diabetes , cancers, infectious diseases including viral hepatitis or certain medications can be identified as the cause.
Symptoms of glomerulonephritis
Patients may often not experience any symptoms related to glomerulonephritis, particularly because this condition does not cause any pain. Should it not be detected by chance, the patients are at risk of becoming symptomatic only once the disease has already progressed and their kidneys have been severely damaged. At this stage of the disease, the water and electrolyte balance can no longer be properly regulated and thus results in edemas and high blood pressure . Also the general well-being decreases and patients feel exhausted, tired and suffer from headaches as well as decreased concentration.
Early on, glomerulonephritis can be diagnosed with a urine analysis. In case the glomeruli are inflamed and have reduced function, the examination will show increased amounts of protein and tiny amounts of blood in the urine.
Therapy of glomerulonephritis
First of all, the disease has to be diagnosed. Besides urine analysis, blood labs can indicate impaired kidney function, as the increased amount of protein peed out is now missing in the blood. Ultrasound examination and kidney biopsy can confirm the diagnosis.
For choosing the right therapy, the actual cause is decisive. In case of the secondary type, focus must be on treating the underlying cause. Infections can be managed with antibiotics, diabetes must be controlled with medications.
Primary glomerulonephritis, however, is treated with so-called immunosuppressive drugs. These function by slowing down the immune system and decreasing the inflammatory reaction. Blood-lowering agents as well as low-salt intake and fluid restriction can support the treatment.
Prognosis of glomerulonephritis
The prognosis largely depends on how early the disease is detected and in turn treated. Ideally, medical intervention is started before an acute glomerulonephritis progresses to a chronic form. Without treatment, this condition can lead to end-stage kidney disease . Patients in that stage must rely on dialysis and eventually kidney transplant is the only option.
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