Chronic Glomerulonephritis

Jagdish Kathwate
MD Pediatrics. Assistant Professor, Government Medical College, Aurangabad, India.
First Created: 01/02/2001  Last Updated: 08/01/2015

Patient Education

What Is Chronic Glomerulonephritis?

Chronic glomerulonephritis is a disorder caused by slow, cumulative damage and scarring of the tiny blood filters in the kidneys. These filters, known as glomeruli, remove waste products from the blood. In chronic glomerulonephritis, scarring of the glomeruli impedes the filtering process, trapping waste products in the blood while allowing red blood cells or proteins to escape into the urine, eventually producing the characteristic signs of high blood pressure and swelling in the legs and ankles. In others, fluid retention or foamy urine may be the first signs. Long-term inflammation and scarring (sclerosis) of the kidneys may lead to kidney failure in severe cases. Damage may progress without symptoms for months or years; by the time symptoms appear, the course of the disorder may be irreversible.

What are causes Chronic Glomerulonephritis?

  • Viral infections, such as hepatitis B or C and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), may lead to chronic glomerulonephritis.
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, or other causes of vasculitis (inflammation of small blood vessels) may cause chronic glomerulonephritis.
  • Acute glomerulonephritis may, after a symptom-less period of many years, reappear as chronic glomerulonephritis.

What are Symptoms of Chronic Glomerulonephritis?

  • Blood or protein in the urine may be found on routine urinalysis
  • Facial puffiness in the morning
  • Swelling of the legs or ankles or other parts of the body, due to fluid accumulation (edema)
  • Shortness of breath during exertion due to anemia
  • Headache or other symptoms of high blood pressure
  • In severe cases, symptoms of kidney failure, including fatigue; seizures; nausea and vomiting; loss of appetite; overall itching; headache; easy bruising; frequent hiccups or bleeding; and impaired vision

What are tests for diagnosis of Chronic Glomerulonephritis?

  • Patient history and physical examination
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Chest x-ray to show fluid overload.
  • An ultrasound study of the kidneys may be performed to evaluate the size of the kidneys.
  • A kidney biopsy may be performed. Under local anesthesia, the doctor inserts a needle into the kidney through the back to extract a small sample of tissue.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan or abdominal ultrasound can be performed to show damage to the glomeruli.

How to Treat Chronic Glomerulonephritis?

  • Antihypertensive drugs may be prescribed to reduce high blood pressure.
  • Diuretics may be prescribed to reduce excess fluid retention and increase urine production.
  • Steroid medication or immunosuppressive drugs may be prescribed for some patients.
  • In severe cases where kidney failure occurs, dialysis may be necessary.
  • A kidney transplant is an alternative to dialysis in cases of kidney failure.

Chronic Glomerulonephritis Chronic Glomerulonephritis 2015-08-01
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