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May 4, 2013, last updated June 5, 2016

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

The tricky-to-pronounce glomerulonephritis (gloe-mer-u-lo-
nuh-FRY-tis) is actually a disease that damages your kidneys.
You may suffer a sudden attack – acute glomerulonephritis –
or the condition could creep up on you invisibly over the years
– chronic glomerulonephritis. What exactly is
glomerulonephritis and how does it affect your body and your
life? What can you do to treat chronic or acute

Glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the glomeruli, the
tiny filters in your kidneys that remove waste and excess fluid
from your blood and direct them into your urine. If the
condition occurs on its own it is called "primary

But you may have another disease that creates the problem, in
which case the condition is called "secondary

This kidney disease is not common – the European Renal
Association (2010) says between 0.2 per 100,000 and 2.5 per
100,000 people worldwide are affected each year. Men are
twice as likely as women to suffer, according to Medical
Disability Advisor, and most sufferers are under the age of 40.

However rare it may be, this condition is a severe kidney
ailment. This condition and other kidney conditions are a
growing problem,  accounting for 7% of all hospitalizations,
according to a 2014 study from the Istituto di Ricerche
FarmacologicheMario Negri in Bergam, Italy.

Unfortunately, glomerulonephritis also develops in children.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Glomerulonephritis?

For many people, their pee is the first place they notice
something could be wrong. You may have pink or brown-
colored pee from the red blood cells that are present in the
urine, or your pee may be excessively foamy. This is due to
the excess protein in the urine. You are probably urinating
less than usual.

Swollen feet, hands, face and abdomen are other prominent
signs. You may also suffer from
high blood pressure and

What Causes Glomerulonephritis?

One key factor that brings on glomerulonephritis is infection.
In particular, glomerulonephritis can occur a week or two
following a strep throat infection or impetigo, a skin infection.

The infection causes an overproduction of antibodies that may
rest in the kidneys, causing an inflammation.

Bacteria can also cause an infection in your heart valves,
leading to kidney damage. And viral infections that cause
glomerulonephritis include HIV and hepatitis B and C.

Incidence of glomerulonephritis in the US has significantly
declined in recent years, most notably due to high use of
antibiotics for infections along with better nutrition.

Certain immune diseases can cause the development of
glomerulonephritis, including
lupus, rare Goodpasture's
syndrome, and IgA nephropathy. (Read more about
that can help manage lupus.)

High blood pressure and diabetic kidney disease can both,
over time, cause scarring of the glomeruli,
inflammation and
eventually glomerulosclerosis. Or, you may have inherited
your form of chronic glomerulosclerosis from family members.

Is Glomerulonephritis Dangerous?

You should certainly go to the doctor to get symptoms of
glomerulosclerosis checked out.

Glomerulosclerosis can damage your kidneys so they no
longer filter, leading to a dangerous buildup of waste and
fluids in the body and eventually kidney failure. If your
kidneys fail you will need emergency dialysis. If your kidneys
lose function over time you will need long-term dialysis or a
kidney transplant.

Further complications include an increase in
blood pressure
and nephrotic syndrome with
high blood cholesterol and
swelling of the eyelids, feet and belly.

Detected early and treated well, glomerulosclerosis is not a life
threatening disease. Under medical supervision there are a
number of things you can do to prevent the progression of
the disease and its complications.

We looked at the recent scientific evidence to see how
glomerulosclerosis can be managed and treated.

Eat Less Salt to Treat Glomerulonephritis

A doctor will tell you to restrict your sodium intake to minimize
swelling and water retention. Restricting salt also helps
high blood pressure.

And, eating less salt can help treat glomerulonephritis. A 2009
study from the First Hospital, Peking University, Beijing, China
found a strict salt restriction in the diet resulted in lower blood
pressure and less protein in the urine in patients with chronic

The restriction of salt to 2g a day led to reduced body weight,
blood volume, and urinary sodium excretion as well as blood
pressure reduction in a 1989 study by Kyushu University,
Fukuoka, Japan. (Read more about
how much salt you should

Cut Down on Protein as a Glomerulonephritis Remedy

Reducing your intake of protein slows down the accumulation
of wastes in your blood, allowing your kidneys to work more

Patients who received a low protein intake for 12 months
showed significant improvements in kidney function in a 2013
study from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of
Medicine, Shanghai, China.

And in a 1996 study by the National Institute of Diabetes,
Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, a
very low protein diet (0.28 g per kg body weight per day)
slowed down the progression of advanced kidney disease.

Eat Less Potassium to Treat Glomerulonephritis

Potassium is a mineral found in most foods and all salt
substitutes.  Potassium can help to
lower your blood pressure.
But, if you have glomerulonephritis or any other kidney
problems, you have to be careful with your potassium uptake.
In advanced kidney disease potassium cannot be expelled as
normal from the body.

High blood potassium levels in people with advanced kidney
disease can lead to emergency dialysis due to the risk of an
irregular heart beat or
heart attack.

The National Kidney Foundation says limit foods that are high
in potassium such as apricots, avocado, cantaloupe, butternut
squash, milk, granola, bran, banana and molasses.

If you want to eat vegetables that are high in potassium you
can leach them – pull some potassium out of the vegetable.
Avoid drinking the liquid from canned fruits and vegetables,
and do not eat the juices from cooked meats.

To leach vegetables, simply place them in water before
cooking. You can leach any vegetable faster but first cutting it
up into small pieces before soaking.

After leaching for at least a half an hour, simply cook them as
you normally would.

Glomerulonephritis and Monitoring Your Blood Pressure

It is important to keep in shape, maintain a healthy weight,
enjoy a healthy diet and exercise regularly in order to
your blood pressure low.

High blood pressure in people with glomerulonephritis can
cause dangerous kidney complications.

To lower your blood pressure, eat plenty of fiber, cut down
on processed foods and include herbs to flavor your food
instead of salt.

garlic, a herb that is heart-friendly and kidney-friendly.
Garlic relaxes your blood vessels. In fact, garlic relaxed blood
vessels 72 percent more strongly than placebo, according to
the results of a 2007 study from the University of Alabama,
Birmingham. (Read more about the Top 10
health benefits of

[Editor's note: While there have been anecdotal stories about
garlic's direct effectiveness in healing kidney infections, we
would need to see actual studies before we can endorse its
direct benefits as a kidney healer. For now, suffice to say that
indirectly seems to promote kidney health.]

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Reduce your salt intake to help kidney
diseases like glomerulonephritis. Read more
how to cut back on salt.