What Is Glomerulonephritis?
The kidneys contain structures called glomeruli, which are made up of very small blood vessels. The glomeruli are small ball-shaped structures and are part of the nephrons. A nephron comprises a glomerulus and a tubule (a small tube that collects the fluid). Both these structures are the main components of the kidney. The glomeruli help to filter your blood and eliminate the excess fluids, wastes, and electrolytes from the blood and they are removed from the body in the form of urine.
The impure blood enters the nephrons and the urine is filtered out. The filtered blood then goes back into the bloodstream and the urine with the impurities and waste from the blood is sent to the bladder, where it is excreted. The tubules meanwhile, hold the useful substances like the protein.
When the glomeruli in the kidneys become inflamed, the condition is known as glomerulonephritis. The inflammation of the glomeruli causes them to get damaged and this reduces the ability of the kidneys to filter the blood properly. The waste begins to collect in the bloodstream and the kidneys will eventually stop functioning efficiently and this can even result in kidney failure. The protein in the blood also reduces, as it begins to get eliminated from the body via the urine, instead of entering the bloodstream.
Glomerulonephritis is also known as nephritis or Bright’s disease and the condition can be fatal and requires immediate medical attention. Glomerulonephritis can be acute (occurs suddenly) or chronic (occurring gradually). Prolonged or severe inflammation, which is a condition usually associated with glomerulonephritis can lead to damage to the kidneys.
What Are The Symptoms Of Glomerulonephritis?
You can experience different symptoms according to the form of glomerulonephritis you have and the severity of the disease.
- The symptoms of acute glomerulonephritis are:
- Reduced frequency of urination
- Puffiness in the face
- Blood in the urine that causes the color of the urine to become a dark rust-colored (hematuria)
- Coughing caused due to fluid accumulation in the lungs
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
Chronic glomerulonephritis occurs gradually and can just sneak in without you noticing any symptoms. Symptoms similar to acute glomerulonephritis may develop very slowly and some of the symptoms include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Swelling in your face and ankles
- Excess protein or blood in the urine that shows up only in a urine test
- Frequent urination in the night
- Foamy or bubbly urine due to presence of excessive protein (proteinuria)
- Recurrent nosebleeds
- Pain in the abdomen
The glomerulonephritis can become so advanced that it may result in a kidney failure. Some of the symptoms of a kidney failure include:
- Lack of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry and itchy skin
- Muscle cramps at night
What Are The Causes Of Glomerulonephritis?
- Infections such as strep throat or infected tooth.
- Viral infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B, and C.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly known as lupus).
- Amyloidosis (abnormal protein buildup in your tissues and organs).
- Wegener’s Granulomatosis (a rare disease which causes blood vessel inflammation).
- Bacterial Endocarditis (bacteria causing infection in the heart valve).
- Goodpasture Syndrome (autoimmune disease, where antibodies attack your lungs and kidneys).
- Polyarteritis Nodosa ( a disease where the cells attack the arteries).
- IgA Neuropathy
- Heavy use of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like Ibuprofen and Naproxen.
This condition usually does not have a clear-cut cause. It can be caused due to:
- Genetic disease.
- Hereditary Nephritis or Alport Syndrome (occurs in young men with problems like poor hearing and poor vision).
- Some immune diseases.
- History of cancer.
- Exposure to hydrocarbon solvents.
If you are suffering from acute glomerulonephritis, this can turn into chronic glomerulonephritis later on.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Glomerulonephritis?
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you have diabetes, then control and monitor your blood sugar level.
- Control high blood pressure to prevent kidney damage.
- Follow a healthy and balanced nutrition and do a plenty of exercises.
- Take your prescribed medications regularly – diuretics (to make you urinate more), medicines to lower blood pressure, antibiotics to control bacterial infection, steroids and other medication to suppress the immune system.
- If you suspect that you have a blocked renal artery, get it checked by a doctor immediately.
- Reduce intake of painkillers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
- Avoid using illegal drugs.
- If your family has a history of kidney problems, then get regular check-ups.
- If you catch a viral infection or strep throat, get treatment immediately to avoid it from developing into glomerulonephritis.
- Have regular check-ups to ensure that your blood contains the correct levels of sodium chloride, potassium, and other salts.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Glomerulonephritis?
- Avoid smoking, as it can make the kidney disease caused by glomerulonephritis worsen.
- Avoid foods and drinks that cause blood pressure.
- Avoid too much of fluids and ensure that the fluids in your body are regulated.
What Are The Best Foods For Glomerulonephritis?
- Have a balanced and nutritious diet that is high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables like cucumber, carrots, celery, pineapples, grapes, apples, peaches, asparagus, parsley, papaya, avocado, etc. and low in saturated fat. This will help to prevent glomerulonephritis.
- Fruits like grapes and bananas are very good for patients with glomerulonephritis. Grapes have excellent diuretic properties and contain potassium. Bananas are low in protein and salt and high in carbohydrates.
- Follow a low-sodium diet, as too much of sodium can cause excessive fluid retention and hypertension and worsen the disease. Use fresh herbs and spices that are sodium-free.
- Follow a low-phosphorus diet, as extra phosphorus can cause bone disease, muscle cramps, skin itching and the conditions can become worse in the case of glomerulonephritis patients in their last stages of the disease.
- Patients with glomerulonephritis usually have proteinuria, so they must consume complete or high-quality proteins, as complete protein can provide essential amino acids and also reduce the load on the kidneys. You can have lean meats, eggs (2 per week), fish, beans, nuts, and shellfish.
What Are The Worst Foods For Glomerulonephritis?
- Avoid common salt and foods that are high in sodium such as salty foods, processed and canned foods, bacon, fried potatoes, junk food, etc. to prevent hypertension, swelling, and fluid retention. Your salt intake must not be more than 1500 mg of sodium per day.
- Reduce potassium intake as when you have glomerulonephritis, the kidneys will not be able to filter the blood properly and extra potassium build-up can cause problems. Reduce your intake of sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, oranges, legumes, nuts and dairy products.
- Reduce fluid intake as this can cause swelling and hypertension. Also, regulating the fluid consumption can reduce the load on the kidneys. Restrict your water intake to 1200-1500ml per day.
- Avoid too much of protein intake to slow down the build-up of waste in the blood and reduce the burden on the kidneys. You must not take protein more than 0.6-0.8 gram per kg of your body weight if you are suffering from glomerulonephritis. Avoid products that are high in protein like soybean, soymilk, tofu, broad beans, mung beans, etc.
- Avoid a diet that is high-fat and high-cholesterol as this is not only harmful for the condition of glomerulonephritis but also causes cardiovascular problems. Avoid saturated fats and foods with high cholesterol like butter, eggs, whole milk, fried foods and fatty meats.
- Avoid foods containing oxalic acid, like cocoa products, chocolate, and rhubarb.
- Avoid spicy condiments like mustard, pepper, etc., as they are harmful for the renal function.
What Are The Medicines For Glomerulonephritis?
What Are The Tips To Manage Glomerulonephritis?
- If you are diagnosed with glomerulonephritis, it can be emotionally taxing. You may benefit from joining a support group that can help you manage your emotional stress.
- Follow safe sex and avoid the use of intravenous drugs to prevent infections like HIV and hepatitis that can lead to glomerulonephritis.