Diane W. Shannon, MD, MPH
Glomerulonephritis is damage to the glomeruli. Glomeruli are the tiny structures within the kidney that filter blood.
The kidneys are bean-shaped organs located in the back just below the rib cage. Each kidney is about the size of a fist. The 2 kidneys filter blood, catch needed substances and return them to the circulation, and dispose of wastes in the urine. If the kidneys don’t filter properly, wastes build up in the blood.
There are 2 types of glomerulonephritis:
In some cases, glomerulonephritis leads to kidney failure.
is a severe kidney disease that must be treated with
Causes of glomerulonephritis include:
Factors that may increase your chance of glomerulonephritis include:
Glomerulonephritis sometimes causes no symptoms and is discovered during a routine urine test. When present, the symptoms of acute and chronic glomerulonephritis differ from 1 another.
The symptoms of acute glomerulonephritis may include:
Chronic glomerulonephritis can lead to kidney failure. Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a nephrologist who specializes in kidney disease for further diagnostic testing and treatment.
Tests may include
Imaging tests may be done to evaluate the kidneys and surrounding structures. This can be done with:
Treatment will depend on the cause of glomerulonephritis. The following steps may be taken to help kidney function or reduce further damage:
Glomerulonephritis can be treated with:
If the kidneys are unable to remove sufficient waste from the blood,
may be required. Temporary dialysis may be sufficient for acute glomerulonephritis. If it leads to permanent kidney failure, chronic glomerulonephritis will require long-term dialysis or
To help reduce your chance of glomerulonephritis:
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Kidney Foundation
Kidney Foundation of Canada
Glomerulonephritis (list of topics). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115425/Glomerulonephritis-list-of-topics. Updated May 26, 2016. Accessed June 1, 2016.
Glomerulonephritis. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at:
https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/glomerul. Accessed June 1, 2016.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
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