Nephritis describes a condition in which the kidney’s tubules and nearby tissues become inflamed, which can lead to kidney damage.

When kidneys are damaged, they don’t work properly. Waste builds up and causes serious health problems. If the condition is severe enough or lasts long enough, it can result in kidney failure. Therefore, a nephrologist should be immediately consulted for treatment.

Types of Nephritis

There are different types of nephritis.

Acute glomerulonephritis

This form of nephritis can develop suddenly after a serious infection, such as strep throat, hepatitis, or HIV. It can also be caused by lupus and less common conditions such as Goodpasture syndrome or granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA). It requires prompt medical attention to prevent kidney damage.

Alport Syndrome

Kidney failure, as well as vision and hearing problems, can happen as a result of this disease. It tends to run in families and is usually more severe in men.

Chronic glomerulonephritis

Developing slowly, and with few symptoms in the early stages, this disease can cause serious kidney damage and kidney failure. It may run in families, or develop after a sudden case of the disease.

IgA nephropathy

One of the most common forms of nephritis, aside from those linked to diseases like diabetes and lupus. It develops when deposits of antibodies are formed in the kidney and cause inflammation.

More common in men than women, it is rarely found in young people because early symptoms are easy to miss. It is often treated with blood pressure medications.

Interstitial nephritis

Often developing very rapidly, this form of nephritis is usually caused by medications or infections. It affects the part of the kidney known as the interstitium. If patients are quickly taken off the medication causing the problems, a full recovery is possible in a few weeks.

Causes of nephritis

There are different causes of nephritis. In some cases, the cause may not be clear. Nephritis and kidney disease can run in families, which suggests a possible genetic link. The cause of nephritis is also often found to be Infections, such as HIV and hepatitis B or C.

It has been found that as many as 60 per cent of those diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease, also develop nephritis. As a result, there may be a connection with immune system problems.

In some cases, medications like antibiotics damage the kidneys, leading to nephritis. Taking too many painkillers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and water pills can also cause nephritis.

Risk factors

The most important risk factors for kidney disease are:

  • A family history of kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Being 60 or older

Symptoms of nephritis

Symptoms of nephritis are usually not severe in the early stages. However, to protect the kidneys from permanent damage, it’s important to seek medical attention if these symptoms are present:

  • Changes in urinating habits
  • Swelling anywhere in the body, especially the hands, feet, ankles, and face
  • Changes in urine colour
  • Foamy urine
  • Blood in the urine

 Diagnosis of nephritis

Nephritis may first be detected by routine blood or urine tests. Finding protein in the urine can indicate that the kidneys are not working properly. A blood test that measures a waste product in the blood called creatinine also sheds light on kidney health.

The best way to check for nephritis is to do a biopsy. For this procedure, a doctor uses a needle to remove a piece of the kidney and studies it.

When to see a nephrologist

Blood in the urine or urine that looks brown is a clear signal to seek medical help immediately. Other signs include foamy urine, changes in the frequency of urination, and swelling around the face or ankles. These are symptoms of nephritis.

People should seek medical assistance quickly to limit possible kidney damage if one or more symptoms develop.

Treatment and prevention of nephritis

The treatment for nephritis depends on whether the disease is acute, chronic, or linked to other diseases, such as lupus.

Acute nephritis sometimes goes away on its own. It usually requires treatment with medication and special procedures to remove excess fluids and dangerous proteins.

Treating chronic nephritis typically involves regular check-ups of the kidneys and monitoring blood pressure. Doctors may prescribe water pills to both control blood pressure and reduce any swelling patients have.

Medications that keep the immune system from attacking the kidneys are helpful in some cases. Nephrologists may also recommend dietary changes, such as cutting back on protein, salt, and potassium.

Preventing nephritis

Kidney problems make following these healthy guidelines more important than ever:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit Smoking
  • Keep blood pressure within healthy limits
  • Keep blood sugar within healthy limits
  • Exercise

A healthy diet can help to protect kidney health. Individuals with kidney problems are frequently advised to eat less protein and cut down on salt.

It can be helpful to talk to a specially trained dietician to learn how to adopt a kidney-friendly diet and avoid medications that harm the kidneys like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.