The glomeruli are the functional unit of the kidney. They are small, round filters that allow for filtration of waste products in the kidney. They can become damaged or infected and cannot effectively filter waste products from the bloodstream. The disorder can be acute or chronic. Acute glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the glomeruli. It usually occurs after and infection, but sometimes the cause in unknown. When this disorder occurs after a streptococcal infection, it is most commonly seen 6-10 days after the throat symptoms have resolved. This may cause serious consequences, and can affect all ages but is most common in children ages 6-10. Chronic glomerulonephritis is usually a slowly progressive disorder that leads to progressive loss of kidney function. There are several diseases of the glomeruli that damage their ability to function normally.
Causes of Glomerulonephritis
The cause of many cases of acute glomerulonephritis is, indirectly, a streptococcal infection. The throat and skin are the most common infection site. An antigen develops to a portion of the bacteria that is similar to a component of the kidney. Damage to the kidney then occurs. The onset of kidney symptoms is usually 2 or 3 weeks after the strep infection. Other forms of acute glomerulonephritis include other infections, such as pneumococcal pneumonia, bacteria sepsis, endocarditis, typhoid fever and syphilis. Some viruses can also produce this disorder, including infectious mononucleosis, mumps, measles, echovirus, coxsackievirus and hepatitis. Chronic glomerulonephritis is caused by a number of disorders. Membranous glomerulonephritis occurs more in males. It often may proceed to renal failure. IgA nephropathy is also known as Berger's disease. It is varcharacterized by repeated episodes of blood in the urine. It primarily affects young men. Diabetic nephropathy is probably the most common cause of end stage renal disease in the U.S. Other diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosis, amyloidosis, multiple myeloma and AIDS can produce chronic glomerulonephritis. Sometimes the cause is unknown.
Signs and Symptoms of Glomerulonephritis
Symptoms of glomerulonephritis that occur after a streptococcal infection, usually show up 6-10 days after the acute infection has subsided. There is the development of tea colored urine. Fluid retention occurs, with generalized swelling, most prominent in the legs, the face and abdomen. There may be flood in the urine. Occasionally, there are headaches and blurred vision. As the disease in the kidney progresses, more severe symptoms may develop in acute glomerulonephritis. These include smoky or slightly red urine. Nausea and vomiting may occur in concert with loss of appetite. Decreased urine output may develop. Headaches and blurred vision may worsen. Generalized edema and swelling in the body will develop. Symptoms of chronic glomerulonephritis have less obvious symptoms. Blood may develop in the urine. There may be weight gain, due to retention of fluids. Swelling of the face, abdomen and feet may occur. This disorder commonly occurs as a long term effect of diabetes. Elevation of the blood pressure occurs. There is gradual renal failure.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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