Did you know the second most common cause for kidney disease in Singapore is glomerulonephritis?
Associate Professor Terence Kee, Senior Consultant, Department of Renal Medicine at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group, explains more about the condition. (iStock photo)
Glomerulonephritis is the medical term for the inflammation of the kidney’s miniature blood vessels which filter blood. These tiny filters, called glomeruli, play an important part in removing excess fluids and wastes from the body.
If glomerulonephritis is not treated, the kidneys will eventually lose their filtering capacity completely. This leads to irreversible kidney failure and the need for kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant.
“A sudden and short episode of glomerulonephritis can be reversible. However, chronic glomerulonephritis tends to cause severe kidney damage,” says Assoc Prof Kee.
Symptoms of glomerulonephritis
Early stages of glomerulonephritis show no symptoms so it is important to have regular health screenings to detect signs of blood or protein in the urine.
As kidney disease sets in, these symptoms may appear:
- Pink or brown-colored urine due to blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Foamy urine due to excess protein
- Swelling on your face, hands, feet and abdomen (due to the kidneys’ failure to remove wastes from the body)
- High blood pressure
- Fatigue from anaemia or kidney failure
- Less urine output
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chills and fever
Related article: Blood in urine – When is it serious, when is it not?
Glomerulonephritis is usually caused by autoimmune diseases, or bacterial/viral infections.
Causes of glomerulonephritis
1. Autoimmune causes
- Lupus: This autoimmune disease can cause chronic inflammation in the kidneys and other parts of the body
- IgA nephropathy: IgA is an antibody produced to fight infections. If too much IgA proteins are deposited in the kidneys, it can inflame the kidney filters and impair their function.
- Goodpasture’s syndrome: This is a rare autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the lungs and kidneys.
2. Infectious causes
Besides autoimmune diseases, untreated strep throat or skin infections caused by Streptococcus bacteria may trigger a sudden bout of acute glomerulonephritis.
The body normally produces antibodies to combat infections. Untreated infections may stimulate an overproduction of antibodies. When these get deposited in the kidney filters, they can cause inflammation leading to glomerulonephritis.
Related article: How is glomerulonephritis treated and is it preventable?
Articles on HealthXchange.sg are meant for informational purposes only and cannot replace professional surgical, medical or health advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment.
Second Most Common Cause of Kidney Disease that Many are Unaware of. (2019, March 14). Retrieved from https://sg.news.yahoo.com/second-most-common-cause-kidney-095441246.html