What is Inflammation of the Kidneys?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 18 December 2019
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Inflammation of the kidneys, medically known as nephritis, is a relatively common medical disorder that can have several different causes. Inflammation is the body's way of protecting itself from foreign invaders by releasing chemicals and creating extra white blood cells to fight off these foreign substances. An immune system disorder, such as lupus, may cause inflammation of the kidneys without any foreign invaders actually being in the body. Other potential causes of inflammation of the kidneys may include urinary tract infections or kidney disease. Treatment depends on the cause of the inflammation but typically involves the use of over-the-counter or prescription medications.

Glomerulonephritis is a common cause of inflammation of the kidneys. This type of kidney disease develops when structures inside the kidneys stop working properly. This can cause white blood cells to leak out into the urine. Antibiotics are often used, along with pain medications if there is significant pain present. In some cases, medications may be needed to help lower blood pressure, as the development of high blood pressure is common with kidney disease.

Pyelonephritis, more commonly known as a kidney infection, is a leading cause of inflammation of the kidneys. A kidney infection occurs when harmful bacteria makes its way to the kidneys from the bladder. Kidney stones may also lead to inflammation of the kidneys. Both conditions can be quite painful and should prompt a visit to a doctor.


Common symptoms of kidney inflammation include pain in the lower back or sides where the kidneys are located, sometimes accompanied by a fever. Some patients may notice blood in the urine or experience pain when urinating. If there is a lot of inflammation, there may be swelling or weight gain. The swelling caused by inflammation of the kidneys is typically the most noticeable in the face and lower legs or feet.

Treatment options for inflammation of the kidneys depends largely on the cause for the inflammation, although in some cases the direct cause cannot be found. Over-the-counter pain medications are often recommended, although many doctors are willing to prescribe stronger medications as needed. In cases where infection is present, antibiotics are typically prescribed. Underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure need to be controlled in order to avoid permanent damage to the kidneys. It is important for the patient to always follow the instructions given by the doctor and report any new symptoms that may develop.


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