Your kidneys contain a structure filled with small blood vessels that is known as the glomerulus. The glomerulus is the first line of defense when it comes to filtering blood. When the glomerulus suddenly become inflamed, this is known as acute glomerulonephritis. This condition can occur on its own or as the result of another disease such as diabetes or lupus. Prolonged glomerulonephritis can result in severe kidney damage, and must therefore be treated promptly.
The first signs of glomerulonephritis are normally seen in the urine. Your urine may be pink or cola-colored, and can even appear cloudy or foamy. You may notice edema, which involves swelling in the face, hands, feet, and abdomen. Glomerulonephritis can also raise the blood pressure and cause you to feel more fatigued or tired than usual.
It’s not uncommon for patients who have recently experienced a strep infection to come down with glomerulonephritis, as the extra antibodies produced to fight this infection may sometimes settle in the glomeruli. Glomerulonephritis can sometimes be caused by a bacteria or virus, or appear as a result of an immune disease such as lupus or Goodpasture’s syndrome.
Glomerulonephritis is typically treated by addressing the underlying cause. The diagnosis is made by laboratory tests, ultrasound and sometimes kidney biosy. The results of tests help guide therapy. It may be as simple as blood pressure or blood sugar control, but may require more advanced treatments. Nephrologists are training to tailor a treatment plan aimed at improving kidney function.