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Nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys)


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Nephritis means inflammation of the kidneys. Quite certainly, this will affect normal functioning of your kidneys, giving rise to several symptoms which could be acute or gradually become chronic.

Nephritis is of the following types

  • Glomerulonephritis is the inflammation of the glomeruli structures (unit of filtration) present in the kidneys.
  •  Lupus nephritis is a typical autoimmune condition involving inflammation of the kidney that is caused by systemic lupus erythematous (SLE)
  •  Pyelonephritis results in kidney inflammation caused by the intestinal bacteria Escherichia coli (E.coli)
  •  Interstitial nephritis involves inflammation of the space (interstitial space) present in between the renal tubules.


Symptoms of nephritis

  • Sensing pain and burning while urinating
  •  Dark urine or presence of blood and pus
  •  Cloudy or presence of froth or foam in urine (proteinuria)
  •  Frequent urination especially at night or decreased output
  •  Swelling in legs, ankles, face and hands
  •  Pelvic and abdominal pain particularly around the kidneys
  •  Weight gain from retention of fluid
  •  Nausea, vomiting and general fatigue
  •  Fever and rash over skin
  •  High blood pressure


Causes of nephritis

  • Autoimmune diseases for example Sjogren syndrome, lupus, Kawasaki’s disease,
  •  Bacterial infections in case of pyelonephritis.  Group A beta-haemolytic streptococcus infection in children
  •  Viral infections ( e.g. hepatitis B, measles, infectious mononucleosis,etc.) or parasitic infections like malaria and toxoplasmosis
  •  Allergic response of the body to antibiotic, medicines or other foreign substances
  •  From weak immune system
  •  Side effect of some long term dosing of medicines (most common is NSAID, omeprazole, diuretics, etc.)
  •  Very less potassium in blood
  •  Presence of excess uric acid and calcium in blood
  •  Complication of surgery in bladder, kidney or ureter
  •  From kidney stones or abscess in kidneys
  •  Family history of kidney disease or kidney infections


Complications of nephritis

You need to see a doctor immediately on experiencing any of those aforementioned abnormalities. Delay in treatment or chronic conditions might lead to kidney failure.


Diagnosis of nephritis

Your doctor will evaluate your physical health to look for signs of kidney inflammation- like edema, fever, rashes etc. Let your doctor know about your medical or surgical history, medicines that you are taking or any other information that your doctor is looking for.

Tests for nephritis include blood tests for blood chemistry, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), CBC test, blood creatinine levels, and electrolyte tests. You need to give your urine sample for analysis.

Blood and urine will also be analyzed for presence of abnormal blood cells to detect an infection.

Furthermore, CT scan of pelvic and abdomen, ultrasound of kidneys and kidney biopsy would be suggested. A combined report of all these diagnostic tests will help determine the extent and cause of the inflammation in your kidneys.


Treatment of nephritis

Nephritis is completely treatable with medicines and kidney friendly diet. However the treatment will depend on the underlying cause. For example antibiotics would be given for bacterial infections, while potassium supplements or calcium channel blockers would be given to restore balance of these electrolytes. The inflammation might also be managed with anti-inflammatory drugs (corticosteroids) or immunosuppressive drugs in case of autoimmune conditions like lupus.

Dialysis is not usually performed unless your kidneys have stopped working.

Your doctor will advice rest until the inflammation is managed. You need to consume plenty of water daily to flush out toxins. Low sodium and low protein diet might also be advised.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: September 22, 2014