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Glomerular Diseases: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Glomerular Diseases: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Glomerular Disease Overview


Glomerular disease is a kidney disease characterized by damage to the glomeruli. The latter is present in the kidneys and involves several blood vessels in the form of a network. These blood vessels act as cleaning units of the kidneys. They cleanse the blood by filtering waste and liberating excess fluids from it. 


An individual suffers from glomerular disease when the glomeruli stop functioning due to serious damage. As far as the damage to the glomeruli is concerned, it can happen due to several conditions or diseases. In broad terms, the damages to the glomeruli can be classified under two categories. These include glomerulonephritis (inflammation), and glomerulosclerosis (hardening or scarring).


The glomerulus is attached to the tubule which is a small tube-like organ that collects fluids. A single unit of a tubule is called a nephron. Overall, there are at least a million nephrons that work together for the proper functioning of each glomerulus and kidney. The primary function of the glomeruli is to filter excess water and waste and move them to the tubule which then turns it into urine. Glomerular disease impairs the functioning of the glomeruli.


How Glomerular Disease Affects the Functioning of the Kidney


The disease of the glomeruli prevents each glomerulus from functioning normally. Each of these units ensures the circulation of blood cells and protein in the bloodstream. When an individual suffers from glomerular disease, protein (albumin), as well as blood cells, enter the bloodstream. The filtering and liberation of protein in this way causes inflammation of ankles, abdomen, feet, hands, and face.


Furthermore, glomerular disease damages the glomeruli to the point that it renders each glomerulus incapable of filtering out waste products. As a result, waste products start accumulating in the bloodstream.


Causes of Glomerular Disease


Glomerular disease in an individual can be the outcome of several factors. These include the following:

  • The use of a chemical or medication that is harmful to the kidney
  • An infection
  • Diseases that affect the whole body and the kidney
  • An unknown cause
  • Diseases that either lead to the formation of scarring of the glomeruli or cause inflammation


The Signs of Kidney Disease


Like most diseases, glomerular disease can also be identified by certain indicators. Individuals who suffer from it show some kidney problem symptoms. These include the ones given below.

  • Foam in the urine (or proteinuria) due to the accumulation of excess protein
  • Blood in the urine (or hematuria) that is characterized by light brown or pink urine
  • Edema or inflammation of the ankles, feet, or hands (when the day ends)
  • Inflammation around the eye or face (when the day begins or in the morning)
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure


Diagnosis of Glomerular Disease


The diagnosis of the disease begins with a visit to your doctor. They will carry out a thorough physical examination of your body and go through your medical history to determine the necessary tests for the diagnosis of the glomerular disease. In most cases, they order the following tests:

  • A urine test to check the levels of white blood cells (WBCs), red blood cells (RBCs), and protein
  • Blood tests to find out the current status of kidney functioning through creatinine and the level of protein


Based on these tests, your doctor will determine the GFR (glomerular filtration rate). If it indicates kidney damage, they will also recommend the following tests:

  • Additional blood tests to detect any autoimmune disease or an infection
  • Ultrasound to check any abnormality in the size or shape of the kidneys
  • Kidney biopsy


Kidney Disease Treatment


The treatment of glomerular disease begins after its diagnosis. The objective of treating the disease is to treat an underlying cause that is responsible for it. The treatment options for different autoimmune diseases include the following:

  • SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus): your doctor will prescribe immunosuppressant medications alongside anti-inflammatory treatment.
  • Goodpasture’s syndrome: your doctor will prescribe immunosuppressants and recommend plasmapheresis to remove antibodies that attack the cells of your body.
  • IgA nephropathy: your doctor will prescribe angiotensin receptor blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.
  • Alport Syndrome: your doctor will give you medications to control blood pressure for the treatment of glomerular diseases due to this condition.
  • PIGN (Acute Post-Infectious Glomerulonephritis): this condition does not have any treatment. As the last resort, your doctor may suggest either dialysis or kidney transplantation.
  • Bacterial Endocarditis: your doctor will give you antibiotics.
  • Viral Infections: your doctor will treat the condition based on the type of viral infection in the body.
  • Glomerulosclerosis: your doctor will prescribe suitable medications to reduce scarring.
  • Nephropathy due to Diabetes: alongside the directions for exercise and a healthy diet, your doctor will prescribe medications to keep blood pressure under control and give you enzyme inhibitors.
  • FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis): the treatment options include the ones that aim to lower the cholesterol and blood pressure levels of the body.
  • Membranous Nephropathy: your doctor will prescribe calcineurin inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, and inhibitors that convert enzymes into angiotensin are given to patients.
  • Minimal Change Disease: your doctor will prescribe angiotensin receptor blockers, and ask you to take a diet low in salt.


Medanta Medical Team
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