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What is Chronic Glomerulonephritis?

Chronic glomerulonephritis is a relentless condition where the tiny filters in your kidneys, called glomeruli, become inflamed and scarred, impairing kidney function over time. This can lead to serious health issues, including kidney failure. Visuals within the article vividly illustrate the disease's progression. Curious about how this condition affects the body and what treatments are available? Keep reading to uncover more.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Chronic glomerulonephritis causes destruction of the glomeruli in the kidneys. Each glomerulus is made up of blood vessels that filter the blood and help to produce urine, so as they become dysfunctional, the kidneys begin to have difficulty with blood filtration. This can lead to initial symptoms, like small amounts of blood in the urine. Some cases resolve without treatment, but for many, treatment is necessary in order to sustain life.

Many times, the causes for chronic glomerulonephritis are not easily identified. Certain illnesses may predispose a patient toward developing this condition, including autoimmune disorders like end stage AIDs, lupus, and some blood sugar disorders like diabetes. In about 25% of people, however, the cause is unknown and those affected have had no earlier problems with kidney health.

A chest X-ray is often used to help confirm a diagnosis of chronic glomerulonephritis.
A chest X-ray is often used to help confirm a diagnosis of chronic glomerulonephritis.

Often, the condition is diagnosed through a urinalysis, which will show blood and protein in the urine. Since it frequently causes high blood pressure, those with hypertension are also typically screened for the disease. Additional tests that may confirm the condition are ultrasounds of the abdomen and the kidneys, and chest X-ray. Patients often retain fluid, which can be shown in the lungs. Some medical professionals also prefer to do a biopsy of the kidneys, since identifying cause when possible can alter treatment.

Chronic glomerulonephritis is often diagnosed through urinalysis.
Chronic glomerulonephritis is often diagnosed through urinalysis.

Treatment for chronic glomerulonephritis can depend upon cause — if it can be identified. One of the main concerns is controlling high blood pressure, which though a cause of the illness, can also contribute to worsening it. Further, high blood pressure alone represents greater risk for stroke and must be treated. Normally, hypertension is treated with a variety of blood pressure medications, and patients may also need to go on a salt and fluid restricted diet.

Blood vessels within the kidney can become inflamed, disrupting its filtering of the blood.
Blood vessels within the kidney can become inflamed, disrupting its filtering of the blood.

In severe cases, kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant is required to help the body adequately filter blood products. Transplant can often halt the disease, but can be difficult to obtain. If the disease is caused by conditions like AIDs, lupus, or diabetes, a transplant may not be successful. The condition can also recur in the transplanted kidney.

Blood in the urine is a possible symptom of chronic glomerulonephritis.
Blood in the urine is a possible symptom of chronic glomerulonephritis.

How successful the treatment is depends upon the degree to which symptoms can be controlled or stopped. Serious damage to the kidneys, called nephrotic syndrome, may be irreversible. When such damage can be controlled, patients may recover well. Of course, the outcome of treatment also depends upon cause, and with illnesses like AIDs, the condition tends to progressively worsen.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent TheHealthBoard contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent TheHealthBoard contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

anon65977

Give me a brief discussion about the difference between the nephrosis and nephritis?

anon37550

my husband has been diagnosed with glomeruli nephritis. What should be his diet and how long will he live?

anon27693

hi, i have an uncle who has an ESRD and CGN. my question is how much worse can it get for a person? i mean are these conditions or diseases treatable? what are the things to consider if you have these conditions?

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    • A chest X-ray is often used to help confirm a diagnosis of chronic glomerulonephritis.
      By: nyul
      A chest X-ray is often used to help confirm a diagnosis of chronic glomerulonephritis.
    • Chronic glomerulonephritis is often diagnosed through urinalysis.
      By: jcreaxion
      Chronic glomerulonephritis is often diagnosed through urinalysis.
    • Blood vessels within the kidney can become inflamed, disrupting its filtering of the blood.
      By: kocakayaali
      Blood vessels within the kidney can become inflamed, disrupting its filtering of the blood.
    • Blood in the urine is a possible symptom of chronic glomerulonephritis.
      By: tomschoumakers
      Blood in the urine is a possible symptom of chronic glomerulonephritis.
    • Kidney dialysis is often required for severe cases of chronic glomerulonephritis.
      By: Tyler Olson
      Kidney dialysis is often required for severe cases of chronic glomerulonephritis.