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Glomerulonephritis - What it is

​Glomerulonephritis are inflammatory conditions that affect the glomeruli (small filters in the kidney that help remove waste and excess water from the blood) and small blood vessels in the kidneys. Glomerulonephritis may affect patients in many ways: some feel completely well while others may have severe body swelling if they develop nephrotic syndrome. Untreated kidney inflammation can lead to chronic kidney disease and kidney failure.  

Find out more about glomerulonephritis and how it affects patients:
Glomerulonephritis English
Glomerulonephritis Chinese
Glomerulonephritis Malay

Find out more about nephrotic syndrome:

Glomerulonephritis - Symptoms

​Glomerulonephritis may not show any signs or symptoms at an early stage. It may be picked up during routine health screening detecting the presence of blood or protein in the urine. Certain types of glomerulonephritis can present with disease activity in other parts of the body as part of a multi-system autoimmune disease, for example, skin rash or joint inflammation in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

A person may also present with acute symptoms such as:
  • Headache, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills
  • Swelling in the face, hands and feet
  • Foamy urine, smoky or dark-coloured urine
  • Less urine
  • Feeling tired
  • High blood pressure

Glomerulonephritis - How to prevent?

Glomerulonephritis - Causes and Risk Factors

There are many causes of glomerulonephritis. Some are primary i.e. arising in the kidney, while others may be related to systemic diseases that affect the rest of the body. One of the most common secondary glomerulonephritis is lupus nephritis. To diagnose the underlying cause of glomerulonephritis, a kidney biopsy to obtain kidney tissue for microscopic examination is usually required.

Find out more about lupus nephritis:

Find out more about the kidney biopsy through this link

Glomerulonephritis - Diagnosis

  • Blood samples to look for medical conditions that cause glomerulonephritis.
  • Urine samples to look for presence of blood and protein in the urine.
  • 24 hours urine collection to quantify the degree of protein leak in the urine.

Renal biopsy –This is a procedure that is done in the ward under local anaesthesia, in which a small sample of the kidney is obtained using an ultrasound guided biopsy needle for microscopic examination.

Certain types of glomerulonephritides are associated with malignant conditions such as bone marrow infiltration and solid organ tumours and further screening for these conditions via computed tomography scans, endoscopy or bone marrow studies may be required.

Glomerulonephritis - Treatments

​Treatment will depend on the clinical symptoms, type of glomerulonephritis and severity of kidney impairment.

Acute treatment
  • Medications that alter the body’s immune system to reduce the damage to the kidney cells.
  • Can be associated with side-effects and predispose to infections.
  • Choice of medication is dependent on the type of glomerulonephritis, the severity of the disease as well as the body’s constitution.
Dialysis therapy may be required in the acute stages if kidney function is severely impaired. This can be stopped if the body responds to the treatment and the kidneys recover their function. In some cases, dialysis may be required long term if the kidneys do not recover.

General treatment
  • Blood pressure control to reduce stress on the kidneys. ACE inhibitors or Angiotension receptor blockers may be used for this purpose.
  • Diuretics to help get rid of excess salt and water.
  • Low salt diet.

Glomerulonephritis - Preparing for surgery

Glomerulonephritis - Post-surgery care

Glomerulonephritis - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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