What Are Glomerular Diseases?
Glomerular Diseases refers to a set of medical conditions which affect the glomeruli directly. Glomeruli are small units present in the kidney the function of which is to clean the blood from any toxins or other impurities. Glomerular Diseases tends to include conditions which have numerous environmental and genetic causes, but usually fall into two categories namely glomerulonephritis and glomerulosclerosis.
Glomerulonephritis is a condition in which there is inflammation of a membrane tissue within the kidney that serves as a filter separating waste products from the blood. Glomerulosclerosis is a condition in which there is hardening or scarring of the blood vessels within the kidney. Both of these conditions mentioned above if left untreated may ultimately lead to renal failure.
What Causes Glomerular Diseases?
The main cause of Glomerular Disease is infection or consumption of medications which may potentially be harmful to the kidneys. Medical conditions like diabetes or lupus may also lead to development of Glomerular Disease. In some cases there is no cause identified for the development of this condition and hence is termed as idiopathic Glomerular Disease.
How Does Glomerular Diseases Affect The Kidney?
Glomerular Diseases affect the kidney by damaging the glomeruli the function of which is to clean the blood. As a result of this damage, proteins and blood tend to leak into the urine causing conditions like hematuria or proteinuria. Glomerular Disease can also interfere with the functioning of the kidney and appropriate clearance of waste products does not occur. This results in a build up of waste products within the blood.
Glomerular Disease may also cause albumin to leak into the urine causing a substantial decrease in the level of albumin from the body which results in the blood losing its capacity to absorb extra fluids from the body. This fluid can then build up in other parts of the body like the face, hands, and feet causing swelling of these areas as a result of Glomerular Disease.
What Are The Symptoms Of Glomerular Diseases?
Some of the Symptoms of Glomerular Disease are:
- Proteinuria indicating significant amount of protein in the urine causing the urine to be foamy.
- Albuminuria indicating extensive amounts of albumin in the urine.
- Hematuria indicating presence of red blood cells in the urine causing urine to pink or reddish pink.
- Development of hypoproteinemia.
Upper and lower extremity edema as a result of water retention due to Glomerular Disease
How Are Glomerular Diseases Diagnosed?
Depending on the symptoms which the patient presents with a diagnosis of a Glomerular Disease can be made. Additionally, urine tests may be done which will clearly show presence of proteinuria and hematuria in the urine which will virtually confirm the diagnosis of Glomerular Disease. In some cases, a kidney biopsy may also be done to confirm the diagnosis of Glomerular Disease.
How Are Glomerular Diseases Treated?
The treatment plan for an individual with Glomerular Disease can be formulated once the cause of the disease can be identified. The main aim of treatment is to decrease the symptoms, slow down the progression of the disease, and prevent further damage to the kidneys.
In some cases, a dialysis may be required for cleaning of blood if there is significant damage done to the kidneys till the time the kidney heals and can perform its function on its own. Other than this, there is no specific treatment for Glomerular Disease.
For controlling blood pressure and protein loss as a result of Glomerular Disease, ACE inhibitors can be recommended. Diuretics may also be prescribed to get rid of the water retention that tends to cause edema in the upper and lower extremities.
The physician may also recommend certain dietary and lifestyle modifications restricting salt intake, restricting use of steroids in order to treat Glomerular Disease.
How Can Glomerular Diseases Be Prevented?
In order to prevent Glomerular Disease it is a must for the individual to pay close attention to any symptoms that may suggest the presence of Glomerular Disease and inform the treating physician about it. This will not only allow the physician to identify the cause and start treatment early but also prevent any significant damage to the kidneys as a result of Glomerular Disease.