The inflammation affects the function of the glomerulus -- the part of the kidney that filters blood to make urine and remove waste. As a result, blood and protein appear in the urine, and excess fluid builds up in the body.
Swelling of the body occurs when the blood loses a protein called albumin. (Albumin keeps fluid in the blood vessels. When it is lost, fluid collects in the body tissues). Blood loss from the damaged kidney structures leads to blood in the urine.
The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation in the kidney and control high blood pressure. You may need to stay in a hospital to be diagnosed and treated. Treatment may include antibiotics or other medications or therapies.
Your doctor may recommend bedrest. You may need to limit salt, fluids, and potassium in your diet. Your health care provider may prescribe medications to control high blood pressure. Corticosteroids or other anti-inflammatory medications may be used to reduce inflammation.
You may also need other treatments for acute kidney failure.
The outlook depends on the disease that is causing the nephritis. When the condition improves, symptoms of fluid retention (such as swelling and cough) and high blood pressure may go away in 1 or 2 weeks. However, urine tests may take months to return to normal.
Children tend to do better than adults and usually recover completely. Only rarely do they develop complications or progress to chronic glomerulonephritis and chronic kidney disease.
Adults do not recover as well or as quickly as children. Although it is unusual for the disease to return, at least one-third of adults whose disease does return will develop end-stage kidney disease and may need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Herbert Y. Lin, MD, PhD, Nephrologist, Massachusetts General Hospital, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.