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Nephritis is a set of diseases that cause inflammation of the renal glomeruli, which are the structures of the kidneys responsible for eliminating toxins and other components of the body, such as excess water and mineral s alts. Thus, the most common symptoms include decreased amount of urine, swelling of the legs and blood in the urine, for example.
Most cases of nephritis are due to a serious infection, drug use or poisoning, known as acute nephritis. But inflammation can also be caused by the presence of other diseases, such as hepatitis or HIV infection, for example, resulting in chronic nephritis.
When there is a suspicion of nephritis, it is very important to go to the hospital, or to consult a nephrologist, to confirm the diagnosis and start treatment as soon as possible, in order to avoid serious complications such as anemia or renal failure.
Types of nephritis
The main types of nephritis are related to the affected kidney or the cause of the problem:
- Glomerulonephritis: inflammation mainly affects the first part of the filtering apparatus, the glomerulus, and can be acute or chronic;
- Interstitial nephritis or tubulointerstitial nephritis: Inflammation occurs in the tubules of the kidneys and in the spaces between the tubules and the glomerulus;
- Lupus nephritis: the affected part is also the glomerulus and is caused by Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, which is a disease of the immune system.
The type of nephritis can be identified by the physician and helps guide the type of treatment.
Nephritis symptoms typically include:
- Decrease in the amount of urine;
- Blood urine;
- Excessive sweating, especially on the face, hands and feet;
- Swelling of the face and/or legs;
- Increased blood pressure.
With the appearance of these symptoms, you should immediately go to a nephrologist for diagnostic tests such as a urine test, ultrasound or CT scan in order to identify the problem and initiate appropriate treatment.
In addition to these symptoms, in chronic nephritis there may be loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, insomnia, itching and cramps.
There are several causes that can lead to the appearance of nephritis, such as:
- Overuse 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, Sjögren's syndrome, IgG4-associated systemic disease;
- 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 have a higher 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 complete rest, blood pressure control and reduced s alt consumption. If the acute nephritis was caused by an infection, the nephrologist may prescribe an antibiotic.
in cases of chronic nephritis, in addition to controlling blood pressure, treatment is usually done with the prescription of anti-inflammatory drugs such as cortisone, immunosuppressants and diuretics and a diet with restricted s alt, protein and potassium.
The nephrologist should be consulted regularly because chronic nephritis often causes chronic kidney failure. See what signs may indicate kidney failure.
How to prevent nephritis
To avoid the appearance of nephritis, you should avoid smoking, reduce stress and do not take medication without medical advice as many of them can cause kidney damage.
People who have diseases, especially of the immune system, should undergo appropriate treatment and consult a doctor regularly, in order to monitor blood pressure, and have regular kidney exams. The doctor may also recommend dietary changes, such as eating less protein, s alt, and potassium.