Glomerulonephritis is a progressive kidney disease that affects the glomeruli. The glomeruli are a part of the kidney and are responsible for filtering the waste from the blood and producing urine. In glomerulonephritis, the glomeruli are inflamed as a result of which they are unable to filter the urine properly. This results in an excess build-up of waste and toxins within the body which may also lead to kidney failure.
Rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis is a condition that develops quickly within weeks or months and the kidney function is lost.
Types of Glomerulonephritis
Glomerulonephritis is of two types: primary and secondary.
In primary glomerulonephritis, the kidneys are directly affected
In secondary glomerulonephritis, the kidneys are damaged due to some other illness.
Causes of glomerulonephritis
There is no known main cause for glomerulonephritis. However, the most common causes are bacterial or viral infections. Children, who have had a streptococcal infection, are likely to develop glomerulonephritis. There is a greater risk of having glomerulonephritis due to the following conditions:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Heart infections
- Blood disorders
- Lymphatic system disorders
- Excessive use of painkillers
- Blood vessel diseases
A recent occurrence or a history of any of the above factors makes the child more prone to contracting glomerulonephritis.
Symptoms of glomerulonephritis
- Swelling of the face, eyes, abdomen, legs, ankles, feet
- Foamy urine
- Blood in the urine (rust-colored, dark or brown urine)
- Blood in the vomit or stools
- Cough and difficulty in breathing
- Excessive urge to urinate
- Loss of appetite
- A bleeding nose
- Joint and muscle pain
The symptoms of a chronic kidney disease may also develop with time. Seizures and coma are a possibility at later stages. The condition can worsen if left untreated for a long time causing long-term damage to the kidneys or even renal failure. Hence, when some or many of the above symptoms are triggered, the pediatrician is to be consulted immediately for timely treatment.
Diagnosis of glomerulonephritis
The symptoms of glomerulonephritis develop slowly thus it may come to light after an abnormal urine result while testing for any other condition. It is also possible that a lot of damage has already been done before glomerulonephritis is detected. The pediatrician may then initiate a kidney biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. The pediatrician may also suggest a chest X-ray, CT scan of the abdomen, ultrasound of the kidney and a few urine tests.
The treatment for glomerulonephritis depends upon the severity of damage to the kidneys. The most important part of the treatment constitutes controlling the high blood pressure. The pediatrician will describe medicines to control blood pressure and may ask to limit the consumption of fluids, proteins, salt and some other substances. In this condition, the immune system is unable to produce antibodies and thus attacks the kidneys. Thus, the pediatrician may also prescribe medications to suppress the immune system.
A child showing the symptoms of glomerulonephritis should be closely monitored to prevent chronic damage to the kidneys.