What is nephritis and how to identify

Nephritis is a set of diseases that cause inflammation of the renal glomeruli, which are structures of the kidneys responsible for eliminating toxins and other components of the body, such as water and minerals. In these cases the kidney has less capacity to filter the blood.

The main types of nephritis that are related to the affected kidney or the cause of it are:

  • Glomerulonephritis, in which inflammation mainly affects the first part of the filtering apparatus, the glomerulus, which can be acute or chronic;
  • Interstitial nephritis or tubulointerstitial nephritis, in which inflammation occurs in the kidney tubules and in the spaces between the tubules and the glomerulus;
  • Lupus nephritis, in which the affected part is also the glomerulus and is caused by Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, which is a disease of the immune system.

Nephritis can be acute when it arises quickly due to a serious infection, such as a throat infection fromStreptococcus, hepatitis or HIV or chronic when it develops slowly due to more serious kidney damage.

Main symptoms

Symptoms of nephritis can be:

  • Decrease in the amount of urine;
  • Reddish urine;
  • Excessive sweating, especially on the face, hands and feet;
  • Swelling of the eyes or legs;
  • Increased blood pressure;
  • Presence of blood in the urine.

With the appearance of these symptoms, you should immediately go to a nephrologist to do diagnostic tests such as urine test, ultrasound or computed tomography in order to identify the problem and start the appropriate treatment.

In addition to these symptoms, in chronic nephritis, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, insomnia, itchiness and cramps may occur.

Possible causes

There are several causes that can lead to the appearance of nephritis, such as:

  • Excessive use of medications such as some analgesics, antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, diuretics, anticonvulsants, calcineurin inhibitors such as cyclosporine and tacrolimus;
  • Infections by bacteria, viruses and others;
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren's syndrome, systemic disease associated with IgG4;
  • Prolonged exposure to toxins such as lithium, lead, cadmium or aristolochic acid;

In addition, people with various types of kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, glomerulopathies, HIV, sickle cell disease are at an increased risk of suffering from nephritis.

How the treatment is done

Treatment depends on the type of nephritis and, therefore, if it is an acute nephritis, treatment can be done with absolute rest, control of blood pressure and reduction of salt consumption. If the acute nephritis was caused by an infection, the nephrologist may prescribe an antibiotic.

in the case of chronic nephritis, in addition to blood pressure control, treatment is usually done with the prescription of anti-inflammatory drugs such as cortisone, immunosuppressants and diuretics and a diet with a restriction of salt, proteins and potassium.

The nephrologist should be consulted regularly because chronic nephritis often causes chronic kidney failure. See which signs may indicate kidney failure.

How to prevent nephritis

To avoid the appearance of nephritis, one should avoid smoking, reduce stress and not take medication without medical advice as many of them can cause kidney damage.

People who have diseases, especially those of the immune system, should have the proper treatment and consult the doctor regularly, in order to monitor blood pressure, and have regular kidney tests. The doctor may also recommend changes in the diet such as eating less protein, salt and potassium.