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What is Acute Glomerulonephritis?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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Acute glomerulonephritis is a medical condition that causes relatively sudden swelling and inflammation of structures in the kidney known as glomeruli. This part of the kidney is responsible for the first step of filtering toxins from the body. Several medical conditions, including pneumonia, hepatitis, or lupus, are common causes of acute glomerulonephritis. Some potential symptoms of acute glomerulonephritis include decreased urine production, blood in the urine, or swelling of the face, arms, legs, or abdomen. Treatment often includes prescription medications such as antibiotics; hospitalization may become necessary for severe cases.

Initial symptoms of acute glomerulonephritis often involve back pain and blood in the urine. High blood pressure may also develop as a result of this condition. Some patients experience swelling of the face, particularly in the areas underneath the eyes. There may also be abdominal swelling or periodic swelling of the extremities, particularly the hands and feet. If left untreated, acute glomerulonephritis may lead to kidney failure.

Less common symptoms of acute glomerulonephritis may involve blurry vision, headache, or lack of energy. Some patients notice a persistent feeling of drowsiness or difficulty focusing on normal tasks. High blood pressure or an enlarged liver may also result from acute glomerulonephritis.

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If kidney-related issues are suspected, the doctor will often order a series of tests to check for abnormal functioning of the kidneys. Urine tests may be ordered to check for blood or protein in the urine. Blood tests can determine if the kidneys are filtering toxins from the blood in a normal fashion. In some cases, a small amount of kidney tissue is removed in a procedure known as a biopsy in order to check for inflammation of the glomeruli.

In some cases, when acute glomerulonephritis is suspected, the patient may be hospitalized while the necessary tests are performed to diagnose the condition. Once diagnosed, a tube may be inserted into a vein in order to administer medications such as antibiotics directly into the body. Pain medications and medications used to decrease inflammation may also be delivered in this manner. Additional medications may be used to reduce blood pressure if the patient's blood pressure is elevated. In many cases, the patient is prescribed medications to take at home after being released from the hospital.

After the initial treatment, the patient will often be advised to return to a doctor a couple of times per year for routine lab work, such as blood and urine testing. These tests can often determine if there are any residual kidney problems. It is also important to keep all follow-up appointments with the doctor so the condition can be treated and monitored.

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