What Is Glomerulonephritis?
Glomerulonephritis (GN) is inflammation of the glomeruli, which are structures in your kidneys that are made up of tiny blood vessels. These knots of vessels help filter your blood and remove excess fluids. If your glomeruli are damaged, your kidneys will stop working properly and you can go into kidney failure.
Glomerulonephritis is a serious illness that can be life-threatening and requires immediate treatment. The condition is sometimes called nephritis. There can be both acute (sudden) glomerulonephritis and chronic (long-term or recurring) glomerulonephritis.
What Are the Causes of Glomerulonephritis?
Glomerulonephritis (GN) can be acute or chronic.
Acute GN can be a response to an infection such as strep throat or an abscessed tooth. It may be due to problems with your immune system overreacting to the infection. This can go away without treatment. If it doesn't go away, prompt treatment is necessary to prevent long-term damage to your kidneys. Illnesses that have been known to trigger acute GN include:
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which is also called lupus
Goodpasture's syndrome, which is a rare autoimmune disease in which antibodies attack your kidneys and lungs
Amyloidosis, which occurs when abnormal proteins that can cause harm build up in your organs and tissues
Heavy use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, may also be a risk factor.
The chronic form of GN can develop over several years with no or very few symptoms. This can cause irreversible damage to your kidneys and ultimately lead to complete kidney failure.
A genetic disease can sometimes cause chronic GN. Hereditary nephritis occurs in young men with poor vision and poor hearing.
Immune diseases may also cause chronic GN. A history of cancer may also put you at risk. Having the acute form of GN may make you more likely to develop the chronic form later on. Exposure to some hydrocarbon solvents may increase the risk of chronic GN.
Chronic GN doesn't always have a clear cause. Twenty-five percent of people with the condition have no history of kidney disease.