The kidneys are two organs in the form of beans, about the size of a person’s fist. They’re located in the middle of the back, right under the ribs. In every kidney, there are between one and two million nephrons, small filters that clean the blood. They take out contaminants and excess water and send them out of the body.
Acute Nephritis Definition
Acute Nephritis Definition – Many kidney diseases have to do with the nephrons (“nephritis” means an inflammation of the nephrons). When the nephrons are damaged, the kidneys may not be able to properly cleanse the body. This can happen due to genetic problems, physical damage, or medicines. The risks are higher for those with high blood pressure, diabetes, or those who have close family members with kidney problems. The disease can develop steadily over the years, which causes the kidneys to degrade slowly over time. At times, the inflammation can happen quickly, and causes swift damage to the kidneys. This is called Acute Nephritis. When the kidneys stop working or do not have enough strength, a kidney transplant or dialysis is needed, as we will discuss further.
There are several types of acute nephritis and all occur for other reasons. Interstitial nephritis, which occurs when the space between the tubes in the kidneys becomes swollen, can be caused by certain medications or when there is not enough potassium in the body.
Pyelonephritis is an inflammation that is caused by the E. coli bacterium that is usually found in the gut but can travel up to the kidneys. It may also come from kidney stones or after certain kidney and bladder examinations.
Glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the small blood vessels that are spread throughout the kidneys. It is not clear what the cause of glomerulonephritis is, but it appears to be connected to problems with the immune system, cancer, or a reaction to another infection such as strep or an abscess in the mouth.
To diagnose acute nephritis, a physician will physically examine the patient and go over their medical history to see what the risks are. Then a urinalysis will be done to see if there is any blood, bacteria, or white blood cells in the urine that may indicate an inflammation. A blood test showing increased blood urea nitrogen or creatinine may indicate that the kidneys are not working properly. Sometimes a CT scan is needed to see more clearly what the status of the kidneys is. When it is not clear if there is acute nephritis, or the patient does not improve with treatment, the doctor will request a kidney biopsy, where cells are taken out of the kidneys to examine them under a microscope.
When acute nephritis is caught in time and treated properly, the kidneys can recover. But if left untreated for too long, the kidneys can be damaged to the point where they cease to function completely, and the patient will need dialysis or a transplant.
What Is Acute Nephritis Symptoms
Symptoms may differ according to the type of acute nephritis, but the following are most common:
- Pain in the pelvis
- Pain or burning when urinating.
- Pain in the abdomen or area of the kidneys.
- Frequently urinating, and/or bloody or cloudy urine.
- Swelling in the face, hands, or feet.
- High blood pressure.
Acute Nephritis Treatment
When suffering from recurring kidney stones, Magnesium should be used to help prevent the formation of stones. When the kidneys do not function properly and the blood is not cleansed properly, caution should be exercised about what and how much to eat. Mostly, levels of electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium can become too high or too low. When they are too low, supplements need to be taken to raise the levels. When there are too many electrolytes in the system, a doctor may prescribe an IV to push the kidneys to clean out the blood more. It is important to remember that in the case of kidney problems, you must talk to your doctor before starting or stopping to take any supplements or vitamins.
Treating acute nephritis also means treating what brought it on. For example, if it was caused by medications, you first have to find another medicine that works and does not harm the kidneys.
When the kidneys are inflamed, you may need to receive antibiotics by IV that is usually stronger and work faster.
When the kidneys are not functioning properly and there is too much waste left in the body, dialysis should be started. This is a wonderful advancement in the medical world, as a machine can take on the task of an organ and keep people alive. However, this does not come even slightly close to the work that the kidneys do when they are healthy. Sometimes dialysis is required only temporarily, but when the kidneys are severely damaged, it may remain a permanent need until a kidney transplant is obtained.
When one suffers from acute nephritis, they must rest well. It is also important to drink plenty of water so as not to become dehydrated and to help the kidneys work better. At times, the doctor will tell you to avoid certain nutrients, such as potassium (which is found in many fruits and vegetables), and sodium (salt). Too much sodium in the blood can make the kidneys retain too much water which may increase blood pressure.
- Each kidney is about the size of a cellphone and weighs 4-6 ounces.
- All the blood in the body is filtered through the kidneys about 400 times a day.
- Each of the kidneys has between one and two million nephrons. After age forty, about 1% of the nephrons are lost every year without affecting the functionality of the kidneys.
- The kidneys receive more blood than the heart, liver, and brain.
- The first successful kidney transplant was in 1954.