Glomerulonephritis is a type of kidney disease that can lead to total kidney failure if not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. The percentage of our population that has been diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease has “more than doubled between 2000 and 2008” in peoples aged 65 and older. (1)
We at Grassroots Health are passionate about raising awareness of chronic diseases that affect Americans. That being said, we will dedicate weekly material over the next two months for highlighting many types of common kidney diseases and their health risks. Today we begin our series by discussing one of the main causes of kidney disorder: Glomerulonephritis.
In order to get a better understanding of how this chronic disease affects the kidneys, let us recap: The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs who find their home in the lower back just below the ribcage. These organs are responsible for filtering close to “200 quarts of blood each day, generating about 2 quarts of excess fluid, salts, and waste products that are excreted as urine.” (2) Figuratively speaking, the kidneys resemble a trash-removal service for the body. In a scenario where their function shuts down or even slows, waste begins to build up. If this occurs and persists, it has the potential of becoming life-threatening.
The Effects of Glomerulonephritis
This name reflects different diseases that damage the Glomeruli. These are the tiny filters inside kidneys that allow them to filter blood and remove wastes. If the glomeruli continue to undergo damage, the kidneys can become injured, resulting in the loss of kidney function. This is very dangerous and can lead to kidney failure. (2)
Types of Glomerulonephritis
There are two types of glomerulonephritis: Acute and Chronic.
1) Acute Glomerulonephritis has shown to develop suddenly after an infection such as strep throat, and also in connection with lupus, Goodpasture's syndrome, Wegener's disease, and polyarteritis nodosa. Symptoms of this acute condition include (2):
- Puffiness of your face in the morning
- Blood in your urine (or brown urine)
- Urinating less than usual.
- Shortness of breath
- Elevated blood pressure
2) Chronic Glomerulonephritis has been linked to genetics and immune-related disorders. However, there are cases that have surfaced where the cause can not be identified. This type of kidney disease can develop slowly and without symptoms over several years. Once detected with noticeable symptoms, it often leads to complete kidney failure. Early signs of this disorder include (2):
- Blood or protein in the urine (hematuria, proteinuria)
- High blood pressure
- Swelling of your ankles or face (edema)
- Frequent nighttime urination
- Very bubbly or foamy urine
Signs of kidney failure include (2):
- Lack of appetite
Nausea and vomiting
Dry and itchy skin
Nighttime muscle cramps
The Inevitable Health Risks
The main health risk of glomerulonephritis is kidney failure. “If your kidneys fail, you need treatment to replace the work they normally do. The treatment options are dialysis or a kidney transplant. Each treatment has benefits and drawbacks. No matter which treatment you choose, you'll need to make some changes in your life, including how you eat and plan your activities. But with the help of healthcare providers, family, and friends, most people with kidney failure can lead full and active lives.” (3)
Affordable Healthcare Solutions
Your medical provider can test for kidney disease by measuring kidney function with certain blood tests and urine tests. If you have been diagnosed with a type of glomerulonephritis or any form of kidney disease we recommend that you follow up with your physician as often as they request so that they can monitor your conditions and work to prevent a life-threatening situation from occurring. If you are uninsured or have health insurance that you cannot afford, there are still some affordable healthcare options available.
Grassroots Labs is a company that we partner with in the mission of creating healthcare options that are affordable, convenient and efficient for everyone. On their website GrassrootsLabs.io, they have created an online laboratory test store where individuals can browse a large variety of lab tests that are significantly discounted from the traditional mark-up rates that you find at hospitals and doctors offices. Included in their store is an affordable lab test panel for kidney function. Their online store also features individual affordable lab tests used for diagnosing and managing other chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, and liver disease. These are just a few examples of the many tests they provide for managing chronic diseases and for meeting a wide variety of healthcare needs. For a full biography of Grassroots Labs click here.
We cannot stress enough the importance of regularly monitoring overall health; which is why we strive to make this possible by finding innovative solutions to healthcare, such as telemedicine, that make it more affordable for people to access. In addition, by partnering with like-minded companies such as Grassroots Labs we are able to bridge the gaps between healthcare services by making them valuable to everyone. Stay tuned, next week we will continue in this series by discussing Congenital Kidney Disorders (CKD.)