Glomerulonephritis, or chronic nephritis, is a kidney disease that results in damage to the organ. Its cause can be due to a variety of factors, particularly issues with the immune system. Causes of this type of chronic kidney inflammation in individual cases, however, are often unknown.
Though many different causes can be to blame for the onset of this disease, one of the most common causes is an allergic reaction to medicine. This type of allergic reaction can cause both treatable and irreversible damage. Common over the counter medications, such as pain relievers, can lead to this renal failure. Prescription medications, such as those designed to combat cancer and depression, can also cause the inflammation.
Too much calcium in the blood can lead to chronic nephritis. The presence of other diseases in the body, such as chronic pyelonephritis, can also lead to the condition. As nephritis develops, it often spreads quickly, with several symptoms often displayed. Both laboratory and imaging tests may be conducted to properly identify the disease. Though early stages may be treated with lifestyle changes and medication, if this disease progresses without treatment it can lead to death.
As destruction of the the capillaries that initiate the blood filatration process, or glomeruli, occurs, the kidneys begin to shrivel. They shrink and thicken, causing normal kidney processes to halt. When this occurs, the patient may experience blood in his or her urine. He or she may retain urea rather than releasing it properly as well.
Many other symptoms can appear during the onslaught of chronic nephritis, although they can be gradual. In addition to being bloody, the victim's urine may be foamy. Water retention from the renal failure often results in edema, or body swelling. This often occurs in the face, though it also manifests in the legs, feet, and other areas of the body. Painful physical symptoms, such as abdominal discomfort and muscle aches, can also occur.
Several factors can increase one's risk of developing chronic nephritis. People with a family history of diabetes or cancer are known to be at risk. People who are exposed to hydrocarbon solvents often experience kidney damage, too. Another risk factor may be the frequent occurrence of infections, such as strep or viruses. Having other diseases, such as lupus nephritis or Goodpasture syndrome, increases one's risk as well.
In addition to chronic nephritis, the disease is known by several other names. Glomerular disease is a common description of the illness. It is also called necrotizing glomerulonephritis, rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis, and crescentic glomerulonephritis.