What is Chronic Nephritis?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

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.

Chronic nephritis is a type of kidney disease.
Chronic nephritis is a type of kidney disease.

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.

Bloody urine is a possible symptom of chronic nephritis.
Bloody urine is a possible symptom of chronic nephritis.

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.

Chronic kidney disease may cause high blood pressure.
Chronic kidney disease may cause high blood pressure.

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.

Water retention from chronic nephritis can cause edema in the legs and feet.
Water retention from chronic nephritis can cause edema in the legs and feet.

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.

Symptoms of chronic nephritis may include abdominal discomfort.
Symptoms of chronic nephritis may include abdominal discomfort.

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.

Chronic nephritis refers to damage done to the kidneys.
Chronic nephritis refers to damage done to the kidneys.

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.

Muscle aches may occur as a result of chronic nephritis.
Muscle aches may occur as a result of chronic nephritis.
Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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Discussion Comments

anon323976

What is the difference between chronic Glomerulonephritis and chronic renal failure?

healthy4life

I have chronic interstitial nephritis, and it makes me feel like I am dying sometimes! I get so weak and ill, and nothing seems to help.

I just feel so fatigued. I have pain in my lower back, and I feel so nauseous that I don't want to eat at all. I don't urinate as much as I should, and my urine is dark.

I have had to undergo dialysis for this before, and I likely will again. It seems that I will just have to live with the knowledge that I will likely have more flareups in the future.

DylanB

@StarJo – It's good that you are going to see your doctor. Blood in the urine doesn't always indicate something as serious as nephritis, but it's not something you should ignore.

My grandmother had chronic nephritis, and she would get really nauseated. She would have abdominal pains and lose her appetite.

It once flared up after she had strep throat, and then it happened again after she had the flu. In both cases, her doctor told her to limit her potassium, fluids, salt, and protein, and he gave her steroids.

Some people have it so bad that they are showing renal failure symptoms. They either need dialysis or a transplant, but the majority of people with chronic nephritis don't have it to this extreme.

StarJo

I've been having some blood in my urine and some edema in the last month. Should I be worried about my kidneys?

If I do have chronic nephritis, can it be treated easily, or will I have to have a kidney transplant? I'm going to make an appointment with my doctor, but I'm really scared.

feasting

Though I don't have chronic nephritis, I do have another kidney condition. It's called polycystic kidney disease.

I always wondered why my doctor told me not to take aspirin or ibuprofen, but come to find out, NSAIDS can contribute to chronic nephritis! So, they are just bad for your kidneys in general, and anyone who has any sort of kidney condition should avoid them.

This is hard for me, since I used to take ibuprofen for arthritis and headaches. However, I would rather deal with the pain than ruin my kidneys. I can't imagine developing chronic nephritis on top of polycystic kidney disease!

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