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Glomerulonephritis

:Learn about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments of Glomerulonephritis, a kidney disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.
2023-03-04

Review of Glomerulonephritis

Glomerulonephritis (GN) is a type of kidney disease that is caused by inflammation of the glomeruli, the tiny filtering units in the kidneys that play a major role in removing waste products and excess fluid from the blood and excreting them in the urine. GN can be caused by a number of different conditions, including infections, autoimmune diseases, and other medical conditions. GN is characterized by proteinuria (excess protein in the urine), hematuria (blood in the urine), and edema (swelling due to fluid retention). The diagnosis and treatment of GN involve various tests and medications, depending on the underlying cause.

Pathology

Glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the glomeruli, the tiny filtering units in the kidneys. The glomeruli are made up of a cluster of microscopic capillaries that act as a filter through which the blood passes. As the blood passes through the glomeruli, the glomerular filtration barrier (GFB) removes waste products such as urea and creatinine, as well as excess fluid from the blood. In GN, the GFB is damaged, leading to increased permeability and the passage of proteins and other molecules into the urine. This proteinuria, or excess protein in the urine, is a hallmark of GN.

The cause of GN is usually an autoimmune disease, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or immune complex mediated glomerulonephritis, in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the glomeruli. Other causes of GN include infections, such as streptococcal bacterial infections; genetic disorders, such as Alport syndrome; and other medical conditions, such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension.

Symptoms

The symptoms of GN depend on the underlying cause, but can include proteinuria, hematuria (blood in the urine), edema (swelling due to fluid retention), hypertension (high blood pressure), and decreased urine output. Proteinuria is usually the first symptom of GN, often followed by hematuria. In addition, edema may occur in the face, hands, feet, and other parts of the body due to fluid retention.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of GN is based on a combination of physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging studies. During the physical examination, the doctor may check for signs of edema or hypertension. Laboratory tests may include a complete blood count, urinalysis, and kidney function tests. Imaging studies such as a renal ultrasound or CT scan may also be used to look for structural changes in the kidneys.

Treatment

The treatment of GN depends on the underlying cause. If the cause is an infection, antibiotics may be prescribed. For autoimmune conditions, immunosuppressive drugs may be prescribed to reduce inflammation. Other medications, such as diuretics, may be used to reduce swelling and high blood pressure. In addition, lifestyle changes such as reducing salt intake, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight may be recommended.

Prognosis

The prognosis for GN depends on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. In general, early diagnosis and treatment can improve the prognosis. However, in some cases, the condition can progress to end-stage renal disease, which can be life-threatening.

In conclusion, glomerulonephritis is a type of kidney disease caused by inflammation of the glomeruli. It is characterized by proteinuria, hematuria, edema, and hypertension. The diagnosis and treatment of GN involve various tests and medications, depending on the underlying cause. With early diagnosis and treatment, GN can be managed effectively, however, it can sometimes progress to end-stage renal disease.

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