Skip to main content
Select Source:

Glomerulonephritis

Glomerulonephritis

Definition

Acute glomerulonephritis is an inflammatory disease of both kidneys predominantly affecting children from ages two to 12. Chronic glomerulonephritis can develop over a period of 10-20 years and is most often associated with other systemic disease, including diabetes, malaria, hepatitis, or systemic lupus erythematosus.

Description

Acute glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the glomeruli, bundles of tiny vessels inside the kidneys. The damaged glomeruli cannot effectively filter waste products and excess water from the bloodstream to make urine. The kidneys appear enlarged, fatty, and congested.

Causes and symptoms

Acute glomerulonephritis most often follows a streptococcal infection of the throat or skin. In children, it is most often associated with an upper respiratory infection, tonsillitis, or scarlet fever. Kidney symptoms usually begin two to three weeks after the initial infection. Exposure to certain paints, glue or other organic solvents may also be the causative agent. It is thought that the kidney is damaged with exposure to the toxins that are excreted into the urine.

Mild glomerulonephritis may produce no symptoms, and diagnosis is made with laboratory studies of the urine and blood. Individuals with more severe cases of the disease may exhibit:

  • fatigue
  • nausea and vomiting
  • shortness of breath
  • disturbed vision
  • high blood pressure
  • swelling, especially noted in the face, hands, feet, and ankles
  • blood and protein in the urine, resulting in a smoky or slightly red appearance

The individual with chronic glomerulonephritis may discover their condition with a routine physical exam revealing high blood pressure, or an eye exam showing vascular or hemorrhagic changes. The kidneys may be reduced to as little as one-fifth their normal size, consisting largely of fibrous tissues.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of glomerulonephritis is established based on medical history, combined with laboratory studies. A "dipstick" test of urine will reveal increased protein levels. A 24 hour urine collection allows measurement of the excretion of proteins and creatinine. Creatinine clearance from the bloodstream by the kidneys is considered an index of the glomerular filtration rate. Blood studies may reveal a low blood count, and may also be checked for the presence of a streptococcal antibody titer(a sophisticated blood test indicating presence of streptococcal infection). A kidney biopsy may also be performed, using ultrasound to guide the needle for obtaining the specimen.

Treatment

The main objectives in the treatment of acute glomerulonephritis are to:

  • decrease the damage to the glomeruli
  • decrease the metabolic demands on the kidneys
  • improve kidney function

Bedrest helps in maintaining adequate blood flow to the kidney. If residual infection is suspected, antibiotic therapy may be needed. In the presence of fluid overload, diuretics may be used to increase output with urination. Iron and vitamin supplements may be ordered if anemia develops, and antihypertensives, if high blood pressure accompanies the illness. In order to rest the kidney during the acute phase, decreased sodium and protein intake may be recommended. The amount of protein allowed is dependent upon the amount lost in the urine, and the requirements of the individual patient. Sodium limitations depend on the amount of edema present. Fluid restrictions are adjusted according to the patient's urinary output and body weight.

An accurate daily record of the patient's weight, fluid intake and urinary output assist in estimating kidney function. The patient must be watched for signs of complications and recurrent infection. As edema is reduced and the urine becomes free of protein and red blood cells, the patient is allowed to increase activity. A woman who has had glomerulonephritis requires special medical attention during pregnancy.

Prognosis

In acute glomerulonephritis, symptoms usually subside in two weeks to several months, with 90% of children recovering without complications and adults recovering more slowly. Chronic glomerulonephritis is a disease that tends to progress slowly, so that there are no symptoms until the kidneys can no longer function. The resultant renal failure may require dialysis or kidney transplant.

Prevention

Prevention of glomerulonephritis is best accomplished by avoiding upper respiratory infections, as well as other acute and chronic infections, especially those of a streptococcal origin. Cultures of the infection site, usually the throat, should be obtained and antibiotic sensibility of the offending organism determined. Prompt medical assessment for necessary antibiotic therapy should be sought when infection is suspected. The use of prophylactic immunizations is recommended as appropriate.

Resources

ORGANIZATIONS

American Association of Kidney Patients. 100 S. Ashley Dr., #280, Tampa, FL 33602. (800) 749-2257. http://www.aakp.org.

American Kidney Fund (AKF). Suite 1010, 6110 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852. (800) 638-8299. http://216.248.130.102/Default.htm.

National Kidney Foundation. 30 East 33rd St., New York, NY 10016. (800) 622-9010. http://www.kidney.org.

National Kidney Foundation and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. 3 Information Way, Bethesda, MD 20892-3580. (800) 891-5390. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health/kidney/nkudic.htm.

KEY TERMS

Dialysis A process of filtering and removing waste products from the bloodstream. Two main types are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. In hemodialysis, the blood flows out of the body into a machine that filters out the waste products and routes the cleansed blood back into the body. In peritoneal dialysis, the cleansing occurs inside the body. Dialysis fluid is injected into the peritoneal cavity and wastes are filtered through the peritoneum, the thin membrane that surrounds the abdominal organs.

Glomeruli Groups of tiny blood vessels with very thin walls that function as filters in the kidney. Glomeruli become inflamed and are destroyed in the disease process of glomerulonephritis.

Renal Relating to the kidneys, from the Latin word renes.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Glomerulonephritis." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Glomerulonephritis." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/glomerulonephritis

"Glomerulonephritis." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Retrieved September 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/glomerulonephritis

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

glomerulonephritis

glomerulonephritis (glomerular nephritis, GN) (glom-e-roo-loh-ni-fry-tis) n. any of a group of kidney diseases involving the glomeruli (see glomerulus), usually thought to be the result of antibody-antigen reactions that localize in the kidneys because of their filtering function. Acute nephritis is marked by blood in the urine and fluid and urea retention. It may be related to a recent streptococcal throat infection and usually settles completely, with rapid return of normal kidney function. Other forms of nephritis present with chronic haematuria or with the nephrotic syndrome; children often eventually recover completely, but adults are more likely to progress to chronic nephritis and eventual kidney failure.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"glomerulonephritis." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"glomerulonephritis." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/glomerulonephritis

"glomerulonephritis." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Retrieved September 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/glomerulonephritis

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

glomerulonephritis

glomerulonephritis Group of kidney disorders featuring damage to the glomeruli (clusters of blood vessels in the kidney nephrons). Chronic forms may progress to kidney failure.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"glomerulonephritis." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"glomerulonephritis." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/glomerulonephritis

"glomerulonephritis." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved September 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/glomerulonephritis

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

glomerulonephritis

glomerulonephritis: see nephritis.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"glomerulonephritis." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"glomerulonephritis." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/glomerulonephritis

"glomerulonephritis." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved September 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/glomerulonephritis

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.