Complications of glomerulonephritis 

Glomerulonephritis can sometimes lead to further complications, caused by damage to the kidneys.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common complication of glomerulonephritis, as your kidneys help regulate your blood pressure.

Many people with glomerulonephritis are prescribed medication to help lower their blood pressure. If this type of medication is recommended, it's important to take it as prescribed to protect your kidneys from further damage. It will also help to reduce your risk of developing other conditions caused by high blood pressure.

If it's not treated properly, long-term high blood pressure increases your risk of developing:

High cholesterol

High cholesterol is another complication of glomerulonephritis.

Many people with glomerulonephritis are prescribed medications to help lower their cholesterol. If this type of medication is recommended for you, it's important to take it as prescribed to reduce your risk of developing other conditions caused by high cholesterol.

Similar to high blood pressure, high cholesterol can increase your risk of developing:

  • heart disease
  • a stroke
  • problems with the circulation to your legs, such as PAD

Blood clots (thrombosis)

People with glomerulonephritis can be at increased risk of developing blood clots (thrombosis), including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) of the leg or a pulmonary embolism.

Thrombosis can cause painful swelling in one leg or sometimes chest pain and breathing problems. Your doctor will advise you about medication that may help protect you against thrombosis, or treat thrombosis if it occurs.

Effects on other internal organs

Glomerulonephritis directly affects the kidneys, but other parts of your body may also be affected. 

This is most common in cases where glomerulonephritis is part of a condition such as vasculitis, lupus, or due to an infection.

The effects can range from a spotty red rash over your legs to painful swollen joints or adverse effects on your lungs and liver.

Discuss any symptoms you have with your GP or kidney specialist to determine whether they could be related to glomerulonephritis.

Chronic kidney disease and kidney failure

Some people with glomerulonephritis are left with permanent damage to the kidneys and develop chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD often leads to reduced kidney function, and in a small proportion of people, the kidneys fail completely.

If your kidneys fail, dialysis or a kidney transplant will be required.

Page last reviewed: 12/12/2014

Next review due: 12/12/2016