Glomerulonephritis

Glomerulonephritis (GN) is a condition that refers to the glomeruli (small filters in your kidney) is suffering from inflammation. Your body requires the glomeruli to function normally in order to excrete excess waste and fluids from your bloodstream into your urine.

The most common forms of glomerulonephritis involves:

- Minimal Change Disease

- IgA Nephropathy

- Focal Segmental Global Sceloris (FSGC)

- Membranous Glomerulonephritis

- Lupus nephritis



Causes

Glomerulonephritis is frequently affected by an issue with your immune system in the body, although the clear cause of it is often unknown.

Immune system

Your immune system detects infections and uses antibodies to fight them. In certain cases of glomerulonephritis, the immune system attacks the healthy body tissues instead including the tissue in the kidneys. The reason is still unknown, however sometimes it's part of a chronic issue for example lupus or vasculitis.

Immune system related issues that affect glomerulonephritis includes:

- ANCA Vasculities occurs when the antibodies affect the blood vessels at different sections of the body including the kidneys.

- IgA Nephropathy (immunoglobulin A nephropathy), alternatively known as Berger disease. Antibodies accumulate that leads to Immunoglobulin A that destroys kidney function.

- Membranous Nephropathy causes antibodies to deposit as the membranes thicken within the glomeruli.

- Lupus Nephritis develops when the glomerulonephritis is connected to a chronic condition of lupus also known as systemic lupus erythmatosus.

- Membrano-proliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN) occurs when there is additional cells and the membranes of glomeruli have thickened, this causes infections or immune system issues.

- Anti-glomerular basement memebrane disease, also refers to Goodpasture's disease is a rare condition that shows membranes of the glomeruli being attacked by antibodies.

In some cases, inflammation can be extremely severe and causes crescentic glomerulonephritis and necrotizing glomerulonephritis. There are many factors but most common ones include ANCA vasculitis, IgA nephropathy or lupus nephritis.

The immune system might also play a part in causing other forms of glomerulonephritis, this includes:

- Minimal change disease - the glomeruli are destroyed, yet the damage can only be visible with a distinct high-power microscope. This causes nephrotic syndrome and more frequently seen in children, also develops in adults.

- Focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) - inflammation develops and scarring of the glomeruli

Often, these forms are because of impaired genes that affect the cells within the glomeruli.

Complication of infections

In certain cases, the immune system have abnormalities that are prompted by an infection, this includes:

- HIV

- Hapatitis B and Hepatitis C, viral infections of the liver

- Endocarditis (infection of the heart valves)

Inherited glomerulonephritis

Those individuals who have glomerulonephritis do not have a family history of this condition. Although, there are some forms that do run in the family. For instance, Alport syndrome that affects the blood vessels in the kidneys, this can be passed down from generations.

Certain individuals with focal and segemental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) can have an inherited problem from impaired gene. This is frequently visible during childhood or early adult life.

Those with an inherited form of glomerulonephritis, your doctor will talk about the risk of other relatives in the family who might develop this condition. They might suggest an assessment to detect the risks of family members that can get infected.

There are targetted immune system issues that can lead up to this condition (autoimmune disease). It is a frequently common type of glomerulonephritis for example IgA Nephropathy that can be sourced from the build up of a regular producing antibody (immunoglobin A) within the flomeruli which can lead to inflammation. The more accurate mechanism of IgA Nephropathy is not fully known and the disease can appear years before it is able to be diagnosed.

- Primary Glomerulonephritis directly affects the kidneys

- Secondary Glonerulonephritis us essentially caused by bacterial infections (streptococcal throat infection), viral infections like HIV and Heptitis viruses' infections), heart infections (bacterial endocarditis), cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and abscesses.

Alternative autoimmune diseases that causes GN involves lupus and Goodpasture's Syndrome.


Symptoms

Signs or symptoms of Glomerulonephritis condition becomes visible after the glomeruli has been destroyed. Symptoms involve:

- Changes in urine colour (dark or pink)

- Foamy urine (due to protein in urine)

- Headache, sickness, fever and chills

- High blood pressure

- Fewer urine production

- Swelling of the legs, hands, and face due to excess fluid retention (oedema)


Treatments

Your doctor might suggest a variety of treatment options depending on the cause and severity of your condition. These treatment options might include:

- Blood pressure medication to manage blood pressure

- Corticosteriods or other types of immunosuppressants to reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms

- Dietary changes are suggested by the docto that involves salt and water intake to manage fluid retention and reduce the protein and potassium consumption. This aids in minimizing waste accumulation in the body.

If your condition worsen, the doctor might suggest specific medications to suppress the immune system, depending on the cause of your condition.

- Dialysis might be required until the end-stage is reached

- Plasmapheresis, a procedure used to remove additional antibodies from the blood if GN is caused by autoimmune disease

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