By Dr. Ashok Sarin , Nephrology
What are Glomerular diseases?
Glomeruli are the tiny units in your kidney that help in the filtration of blood in the body. The diseases that damage the glomeruli and as a result, affect the function of kidneys is called a glomerular disease.
It can be broadly classified into –
- Glomerulonephritis: It is characterised by the inflammation of the glomeruli. It can be either acute (sudden) or chronic (recurring). This disease can be life-threatening and can lead to kidney failure.
- Glomerulosclerosis: It is the hardening or scarring of the glomeruli in the kidney.
What Causes Glomerular Disease?
A glomerular disease can be the result of various disorders. It can be caused by drug toxicity to the kidneys or it can be a direct result of an infection. Sometimes, it can be idiopathic i.e. the cause remains unknown.
The most common reasons behind glomerular diseases can be:
- High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure can be dangerous and can cause damage to your kidneys. This, in turn, impairs the kidney and they lose their ability to function properly.
- Diabetic Kidney Disease: It can occur to anyone suffering from Diabetes and is termed as diabetic nephropathy. It is a recurring condition and takes some time to develop. Keeping your sugar levels under check can reduce the risks of kidney damage.
- Infections: Certain infections such as bacterial endocarditis (inflammation of the endocardium; the inner layer of the heart), strep infections or viral infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B etc. are known to result in glomerular diseases.
- Immune Disorders: Immune disorders such as Lupus, which is a chronic inflammatory disorder, can affect the kidneys.
- Vasculitis: Vasculitis is a condition which is characterised by the inflammation of blood vessels in various parts of the body. This inflammation can be in the blood vessels of the kidneys and result in glomerulonephritis.
Symptoms of Glomerular Diseases-
The symptoms of Glomerular diseases can be conspicuous in the early stages, but as it progresses, the symptoms can get serious. The various symptoms can be-
- Haematuria: Blood in Urine: This occurs when the red blood cells penetrate the barrier and come in the urine.
- Albuminuria: It is characterised by the presence of a protein called albumin in the blood. This is used as a test for kidney functions.
- Oedema: You may notice your legs and extremities swelling up
- Hypoproteinemia: When the protein present in the blood passes into the urine, the protein level in the blood drops and this condition is called hypoproteinemia.
- Reduced Glomerular Filtration Rate: The wastes are not filtered appropriately, that causes the reduction in glomerular filtration rate.