Nephritis (kidney inflammation) is most often caused by autoimmune diseases that affect major organs, although it can also result from infection. Nephritis can cause excessive amounts of protein to be excreted in urine, and fluid to build up in the body. It can affect people of all ages, although its cause differs depending on whether children or adults are affected. In children, nephritis is often the result of infections caused by streptococcus bacteria, while in adults it is often the result of vasculitis, pneumonia or hepatitis.

Symptoms of Nephritis

Although some patients may not notice them, nephritis often causes the following symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Blood in the urine
  • Reduced frequency of urination
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness

High blood pressure can also be a symptom of nephritis.

Diagnosis of Nephritis

Nephritis is diagnosed by a complete physical examination and a review of all symptoms. Additional tests include the following:

  • Blood tests
  • Urinalysis
  • Kidney biopsy

Blood tests are used to measure levels of creatinine and blood urea nitrogen; levels increase as kidney function deteriorates.

Treatment for Nephritis

Treatment for nephritis focuses on reducing inflammation and treating underlying causes. Antibiotics may be given to treat infection. Some patients may require treatment, which includes the following, to restore normal kidney function and reduce the risk of permanent damage:

  • Limiting salt, potassium and protein in the diet
  • Reducing fluid intake
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications
  • Taking medication to control high blood pressure

In severe cases, dialysis may be needed temporarily to provide adequate kidney functioning.

Additional Resources