What does Bright's Disease Refer to?

J. Beam

Bright's disease is an antiquated term that refers to a form of chronic kidney disease where the blood vessels in the kidney become inflamed and albumin protein is found in the urine. The term "Bright's disease" is rarely heard anymore, as doctors now diagnose this condition as nephritis, the medical term for inflammation of the kidneys. In early medicine, an English physician by the name of Richard Bright published a report in 1827 on kidney disease after he learned he was able to detect protein in urine. Thus, the term Bright's disease was derived from Dr. Bright's name and findings.

A urinalysis is typically used to help diagnose Bright's disease.
A urinalysis is typically used to help diagnose Bright's disease.

Bright's disease, being a term that is both vague and obsolete, was originally determined to be caused by a number of conditions and referred to any disorder of the kidneys that was identifiable by the presence of protein. Modern medicine has developed more specific identifications for various kidney disorders and diseases. For example, glomerulonephritis describes inflammation of the filtering membrane tissues of the kidneys while lupus nephritis is an inflammation of the kidney caused by an immune system disease.

Blood in the urine is a possible symptom of Bright's disease.
Blood in the urine is a possible symptom of Bright's disease.

There are many different kidney diseases and disorders. While not all kidney disorders will lead to kidney failure, many of them can. Some patients whose kidney disease leads to kidney failure may undergo a kidney transplant and eventually dialysis.

Dialysis may be needed for advanced cases of Bright's disease.
Dialysis may be needed for advanced cases of Bright's disease.

Some of the symptoms of kidney disease include foamy urine, blood in the urine indicated by dark pink or orange-tinted urine, swelling of the hands or feet, as well as general feelings of malaise. Urine and blood tests often detect problems with the kidneys and certain drugs and other illnesses, such as diabetes, are indicators of increased risk for kidney disease.

Since the term "Bright's disease" is no longer used to refer to any disease or disorder of the kidney, it is unlikely that patients will hear the term used today. However, Dr. Richard Bright's published findings are still considered to be a pioneer advancement in the detection of kidney diseases and disorders.

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.

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