Inflammation of the glomeruli (see glomerulus), affecting both kidneys. Damage to the glomeruli hampers the removal of waste products, salt, and water from the bloodstream, which may cause serious complications. Some types of glomerulonephritis are caused by immune complexes (components of the immune system produced in response to infection) becoming trapped in the glomeruli. The condition occurs in some autoimmune disorders. Infectious diseases such as malaria and schistosomiasis are important causes of glomerulonephritis in tropical countries. Mild glomerulonephritis may produce no symptoms. Some sufferers experience a dull ache over the kidneys. The urine may become bloodstained. Loss of protein into the urine may cause oedema (see nephrotic syndrome). Hypertension is a potentially serious complication. Long-term glomerulonephritis is a common cause of chronic kidney failure. Diagnosis involves kidney function tests, urinalysis, and kidney biopsy. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of the disease. Children with nephrotic syndrome usually respond to corticosteroid drugs. In adults, kidney failure can sometimes be prevented or delayed by drug treatment and dietary control to reduce the work of the kidneys.


Online Medical Dictionary: Your essential reference to over 5000 medical terms.