Introduction 

Glomerulonephritis is damage to the tiny filters inside your kidneys (the glomeruli).

It's often caused by your immune system attacking healthy body tissue.

In most cases, glomerulonephritis doesn't cause any noticeable symptoms and is often diagnosed when blood or urine tests are carried out for another reason.

In severe cases, glomerulonephritis may cause visible blood in your urine or your urine may become frothy. Swelling of the legs or other parts of the body (oedema) can also develop.

Having blood in your urine doesn't mean that you definitely have glomerulonephritis, but you should see your GP so the cause can be investigated.

Read more about the symptoms of glomerulonephritis and diagnosing glomerulonephritis.

Why does glomerulonephritis happen?

Glomerulonephritis is usually the result of a problem with the immune system, which causes it to attack healthy tissue in the kidneys. However, there are many cases where the exact cause is unknown.

It can occur by itself or be part of a more general condition, such as vasculitis or lupus.

Glomerulonephritis is sometimes short-lived (acute), but often lasts for a long time (chronic).

Read more about the causes of glomerulonephritis

How is glomerulonephritis treated?

The recommended treatment will depend on the cause and severity of your condition. Mild cases may not need any treatment.

Treatment can be as simple as making changes to your diet, such as eating less salt to reduce the strain on your kidneys.

Medications to lower blood pressure, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, are commonly prescribed for glomerulonephritis because they help protect the kidneys.

If the condition is caused by a problem with your immune system, medications called immunosuppressants may be used.

Although treatment is effective in many cases, further problems can sometimes develop. These include high blood pressure, damage to other organs, chronic kidney disease and kidney failure.

Read more about treating glomerulonephritis and the complications of glomerulonephritis.

Information about you

If you have glomerulonephritis, your clinical team will pass information about you on to the National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Diseases Registration Service (NCARDRS).

This helps scientists look for better ways to prevent and treat this condition. You can opt out of the register at any time.

Find out more about the register.




What do our kidneys do?

The kidneys filter waste products from the blood before turning it to urine. This video explains in detail how the kidneys function.

Media last reviewed: 14/07/2015

Next review due: 14/07/2017

Page last reviewed: 12/12/2014

Next review due: 12/12/2016