Nephritis - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Nephritis means inflammation in some or all parts of one or both kidneys. 


Types of nephritis:


There are many types of nephritis depending upon the area involved, such as:


Tubulointerstitial nephritis:


In this type of nephritis, there is inflammation of the renal tubules and interstitium. The renal tubules are tiny filtering units that take part in urine formation, and the interstitium is the space that co-exists with the tubules.


Glomerulonephritis:


Glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the glomeruli. The glomeruli are tiny blood vessels in your kidney that help filter out waste products and remove excess electrolytes and water from the body.


Pyelonephritis:


Pyelonephritis is the inflammation of one or both kidneys. It mostly occurs secondary to a urinary tract infection.


Causes of nephritis:


There are several causes of nephritis, and they vary in different types. 


Causes of tubulointerstitial nephritis:


Tubulointerstitial nephritis can occur due to many different causes, such as:


  • Infections

  • Heavy physical exercise 

  • Toxins

  • Drugs

  • Cancers

  • Diseases of blood vessels

  • Metabolic diseases such as diabetes

  • Allergic reactions


Causes of glomerulonephritis:



Glomerulonephritis can occur due to a variety of reasons. It is generally due to autoimmune injury, that is, when your body’s immune system mistakes its own cells as foreign or infectious. In this way, the body's own cells are damaged. Diseases that can cause glomerulonephritis are:


  • Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis

  • Goodpasture syndrome

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE

  • Amyloidosis

  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis or Wegener’s granulomatosis

  • Polyarteritis nodosa

  • Viral infections

  • IgA nephropathy or Berger’s disease

  • Hypertension

  • Diabetic nephropathy


Causes of pyelonephritis:


Pyelonephritis most commonly occurs due to bacteria. The most common cause is E.coli, a bacteria which is present in the feces. Other than E.coli, bacteria such as Proteus, Enterobacter, and Klebsiella can cause pyelonephritis.


Viruses can also cause pyelonephritis. In patients who have had a kidney transplant, a virus called polyomavirus can also cause pyelonephritis.


Symptoms of nephritis:


The primary symptoms of nephritis vary according to the type:


Symptoms of tubulointerstitial nephritis:


Tubulointerstitial nephritis may remain asymptomatic for long periods. It may show the following symptoms when becomes symptomatic:


  • Decreased urination

  • Excessive urination

  • Frequent urination at night

  • Back pain

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Rash (if due to allergy)


Symptoms of glomerulonephritis:


Glomerulonephritis may show symptoms such as:


  • Swelling on the face and around the eyes 

  • Swelling in the legs

  • Blood in urine

  • Cough

  • High blood pressure

  • Low urine output


Symptoms of pyelonephritis:


The symptoms of pyelonephritis include:


  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Sudden onset of pain

  • Malaise

  • Burning sensation in the urethra

  • Painful urination

  • Frequent urination

  • Feeling an urgency to urinate


Diagnosis of nephritis:


The diagnosis of nephritis is extensive and depends upon the type of nephritis, signs and symptoms, history, etc. Your doctor may suggest the following investigative tests such as:


  • Blood tests

  • Urine tests

  • Kidney biopsy

  • CT scan

  • Ultrasound 

  • Voiding cystourethrography


Complications of nephritis:


There can be several complications of nephritis. It depends on the type of nephritis and the underlying cause. For example, if there is an infection, it may spread to the whole body and cause-related complications. However, in all forms of kidney diseases, renal failure remains one of the life-threatening complications.


Renal failure or kidney failure is when kidney function deteriorates significantly. The following symptoms may appear when ARF manifests:


 The following symptoms may appear:


  •  Itchiness

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting 

  • Fatigue or tiredness

  • Difficulty breathing


Treatment of nephritis:


The treatment of nephritis depends upon the type. Mostly, the underlying cause is treated and medications such as antibiotics, pain relievers, etc are prescribed. Your doctor may suggest surgery along with medications to treat nephritis.


Conclusion:


There are several different kinds of nephritis and several different causes. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications. Keep in mind that while there are different types of nephritis, they can overlap, such as pyelonephritis can involve tubulointerstitial nephritis as well. These conditions manifest themselves with a variety of symptoms. If you notice any changes in your urine output and appearance or any other symptoms mentioned above, it is advisable to consult your doctor.

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