What is glomerulonephritis?

  • Injury to small filters in the kidney called glomeruli


  • It can be come on suddenly (acute) or slowly (chronic)

  • It may occur on its own (primary) or due to systemic disease like lupus, diabetes (secondary).

Why does glomerulonephritis matter?

If not diagnosed and treated, it can lead to complete and irreversible kidney failure.


  • Pink/orange/red or coca cola colored urine – this is due to leakage of blood into the urine.

  • Foam/frothy urine – this is due to leakage of protein into the urine.

  • Elevated blood test results for blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine – this is due to toxins in the blood.

  • Swelling of legs and high blood pressure – this is due to retaining salt and water.


This condition is often caused by the immune system attacking your kidneys. Infection can cause this, or it can happen on its own. Usually the immune system helps us fight infections. If the immune system starts to recognize parts of kidney or body as foreign, it will cause damage to them.

  • Examples of infections could include viral (e.g., HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C) or bacterial (e.g., strep throat)

  • Autoimmune disease: Lupus, vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels)

  • Primary glomerulonephritis: membranous nephropathy, IgA nephropathy, FSGS (focal segmental glomerulosclerosis)


Various tests are required for diagnosis. These tests can also help to find the cause.

  • Urine tests look for blood and protein.

  • Blood tests monitor BUN and serum creatinine (waste products in body).

  • Blood tests also look for viral infections and autoimmune diseases.

  • Kidney biopsy is required to diagnose glomerulonephritis.



Treatment usually depends on the cause. Goals of treatment are to stop the injury in kidney. This will prevent scarring in kidney. Blood pressure medicines like ACE-inhibitors are often used. These help to decrease protein in the urine. You could also need medicines to suppress (block) your immune system to prevent more damage to kidney.

Organizations for More Information


150 S. Warner Road
Suite 402, King of Prussia, PA 19406
Telephone: 1.866 NephCure (637-4287)
Email: info@nephcure.org
Website: https://nephcure.org/livingwithkidneydisease/

National Kidney Foundation

30 East 33rd Street
New York, NY 10016
Toll-free: 800-622-9010
Telephone: 212-889-2210
Fax: 212-689-9261
Email: http://www.kidney.org/about/contact.cfm
Website: http://www.kidney.org

American Kidney Fund, Inc.

6110 Executive Boulevard
Suite 1010
Rockville, MD 20852
Toll-free: 800-638-8299
Telephone: 301-881-3052
Email: helpline@kidneyfund.org
Website: http://www.kidneyfund.org

American Association of Kidney Patients

3505 E. Frontage Rd., Suite 315
Tampa, FL 33607-1796
Toll-free: 800-749-2257
Telephone: 813-636-8100
Fax: 813-636-8122
Email: info@aakp.org
Website: http://www.aakp.org

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA)

22100 Gratiot Avenue Eastpointe
East Detroit, MI 48201-2227
Toll-free: 800-598-4668
Telephone: 586-776-3900
Fax: 586-776-3903
Email: aarda@aarda.org
Website: http://www.aarda.org/

References/Sources of Images

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) (2015, November). Kidney biopsy. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/kidney-biopsy

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) (2014, April). Glomerular diseases. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/glomerular-diseases