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Glomerulonephritis (GN) is a group of diseases characterized by damage to the kidney glomeruli – small round structures in which waste products and excess fluids are filtered from the blood.


There are multiple causes for GN- infections (bacterial, viral), autoimmune diseases (for example, lupus or Goodpasture syndrome), vasculitis, malignancies, toxins, medications. GN is associated with an abnormal response of the immune system due to one of the listed causes. This leads to structural changes in the kidneys that impair their function.

GN can be divided into acute and chronic. Acute GN is characterized by a sudden onset, often in response to infections (most commonly streptococcal and staphylococcal), and may resolve with appropriate treatment. In contrast, chronic glomerulonephritis develops gradually over time, leading to persistent kidney damage and potentially progression to chronic kidney disease.

Early detection and treatment are critical in both cases to prevent complications and preserve kidney function.


If the disease develops in a mild form, it can be asymptomatic or be discovered accidentally through blood and urine tests. Symptoms of GN include:

  • swelling – first on the face and eyelids, and later on the legs
  • decreased urine output
  • dark colored urine due to the presence of blood (hematuria)
  • high blood pressure
  • laboratory findings: proteinuria (protein in the urine), hematuria, slightly elevated urea and creatinine, leukocytosis (increased white blood cells), accelerated ESR.

The diagnosis is made based on your symptoms, laboratory tests, imaging tests (ultrasound) and a kidney biopsy. Treatment is tailored to the cause that led to GN. In addition, symptomatic treatment is also appropriate – for example, blood pressure medications.


The prognosis depends on what type of glomerulonephritis you have.

For example, one of the most common GN is post-infectious. It occurs several weeks after infection (usually of the throat, lungs, skin, or urinary tract). In that case, a complete recovery is expected in almost all patients.

In other forms of GN, the condition may progress to end-stage kidney disease and at some point dialysis may be required.


In many cases, there isn’t much you can do to prevent GN. However, the following measures could reduce your chances of getting GN:

  • Treat bacterial infections with antibiotics. Always finish the whole treatment course, as prescribed, even if you feel well after a couple of days.
  • Try to keep chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune diseases under control.
  • Avoid excessive intake of nephrotoxic drugs. Painkillers such as ibuprofen, metamizole, and naproxen can damage your kidneys. Always ask your healthcare provider about the right dosage.

Each type of glomerulonephritis requires a thorough diagnostic approach and treatment. It is important that people with symptoms suggestive of glomerulonephritis seek immediate medical attention for evaluation of the condition and timely therapy, which is the only way to reduce complications and preserve kidney function.