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Inflammation of the kidney is called nephritis. In Greek terms, nephro means “of the kidney” and itis means “inflammation.” The causes for nephritis include infections, autoimmune disorders and toxins in the body.
Glomerulonephritis, also called glomerular disease, happens when the internal kidney structures (glomeruli) become inflamed. It can be acute or chronic, and causes loss of protein out of the blood, as well as white and red blood cells to leak from the blood into the urine. It can come from the chicken pox, malaria or strep throat. Glomerulonephritis shows few symptoms at first. When symptoms are mild, they include swollen feet, cloudy or bloody urine and nausea. As symptoms worsen, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, abdominal pain and even seizures can occur. Urine and blood tests should be done to determine if you have glomerulonephritis.A combination of a healthy diet, prescribed medicines for high blood pressure and antibiotics for the infection may help.
Membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN) occurs mostly in children and teenagers. Over time, inflammation leads to scarring in the glomeruli, which can sometimes lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD) or end stage renal disease (ESRD). Symptoms of MPGN include blood in the urine, swelling around the stomach, eyes, feet and legs and fluid retention. Urine and blood tests, such as a creatinine test, can determine if a child has MPGN. A kidney biopsy may also be done. Treatments include steroid medicines, , although children sometimes don’t respond well to steroids, as well as monitoring and managing protein in the urine. ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors and ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers) help stop the loss of protein in the urine. Diet can be a crucial part in treating MPGN.
Interstitial nephritis is inflammation of the kidney cells that are not part of the fluid-collecting units, a condition that can lead to acute renal failure or kidney disease. The causes are allergic reaction or side effect from medicine such as antibiotics, or the long-term use of acetaminophen, which is found in Tylenol or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Blood in the urine, swelling, weight gain, nausea and fever are some symptoms of interstitial nephritis. Your doctor may listen for abnormal sounds in the heart and lungs. A urinalysis, kidney biopsy, blood count and blood creatinine levels are taken to determine the disease. Limiting sodium in the diet and avoiding medicines that may have caused interstitial nephritis are ways to treat it.
IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease, is caused by inflammation of the glomeruli. Blood and protein go into the urine due to waste filtration not functioning correctly. Symptoms include high blood pressure, blood in the urine, pain in the sides, edema and flu-like symptoms among other things. Urinalysis, blood tests and a kidney biopsy are the best ways to determine IgA nephropathy. It cannot be prevented and there is no cure, doctors can prescribe blood pressure medicine and vitamin E to lessen protein in the urine.
Pyelonephritis is a urinary tract infection that moves from the bladder and reaches the pyelum (pelvis) of the kidney, making it a form of nephritis. It’s caused by kidney stones, infections in the bladder, catheter use to drain urine and defects in the urinary tract. Symptoms include blood and pus in the urine, pain during urination, pain in back and sides, and urgent or infrequent urination. An x-ray may be performed to see if there are any abnormalities of the kidney, bladder and ureters. Antibiotics and treatment of any underlying causes to prevent recurrence are required. Extreme cases may call for surgery.
Inflammation can affect other organs besides the kidneys as part of an autoimmune disorder, a disease in which your body makes the wrong immune response against the tissues in your body. Inflammation of the heart, lungs and large intestine are considered autoimmune disorders, along with inflammation of the kidneys.
Lupus nephritis is an inflammatory disease that causes the immune system to attack different parts of the body, such as the kidneys, heart, lungs, skin, joints, nervous system and blood vessels. The exact cause is unknown, but gender, heredity, viruses, infections and environmental reasons may play a role. Symptoms range from swelling of the legs and arms to hypertension and dark urine. Urine, blood tests and a kidney biopsy are used to detect lupus nephritis. Your doctor may have you talk to your dietitian about lowering certain minerals in your diet. The severity of the symptoms determines which medicines your doctor gives you.
Another autoimmune disorder related to CKD and inflammation is Goodpasture’s syndrome. This rare disease attacks both the kidneys and lungs, eventually leading to kidney failure and lung disease. Subtle symptoms include coughing up blood, fatigue, trouble breathing and nausea. A blood test can be done by your doctor to see if you have it. Bleeding of the lungs can last from two weeks to two years, depending on the severity of the disease, likely leading to permanent kidney damage.
Wegener's granulomatosis affects kidneys, as well as the upper respiratory tract and lungs. Like lupus, the disease can attack your nervous system, heart, skin and joints, in addition to your eyesand ears, and the causes are unknown. Symptoms include constant runny nose, eye redness and irritation, coughing up blood, fatigue, joint pain and ear infection. The doctor will do a blood test that can detect certain proteins in your blood. Coupled with the blood test are urine tests, chest X-ray and a biopsy. Immunosuppressive drugs may be prescribed, but not all at once because each case is different. A kidney transplant can also be considered. You are likely to recover from the disease.
Depending on the type of inflammation disease you have, your doctor can prescribe specific medicines to help you treat it. Talk to your doctor before you take NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, for these medicines are generally not recommended for people with kidney disease. Also talk to your renal dietitian about the kidney diet.
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