Glomerulonephritis: Care Instructions

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How the kidneys work

Overview

Glomerulonephritis (say "gluh-mair-yuh-loh-nih-FRY-tus") is inflammation of the part of the kidney that filters blood. This part is called the glomerulus. Kidney problems can cause swelling in the face, belly, arms, hands, legs, or feet.

This problem can be caused by an infection or some medicines. It can also be caused by diseases such as diabetes or lupus. Sometimes the cause is not known.

This illness may get better with treatment. But it often leads to long-term (chronic) kidney disease.

Treatment may include:

  • Corticosteroid medicines. These reduce inflammation.
  • Immunosuppressive medicines. These reduce inflammation.
  • One or more medicines to lower your blood pressure.
  • Dialysis, in some cases. This is a treatment that does the work for your kidneys to filter waste from your blood.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you have any problems with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Talk to a registered dietitian to help you make a meal plan that is right for you. Most people with chronic kidney disease need to limit salt (sodium), fluids, and protein. Some also have to limit potassium and phosphorus.
  • Do not take anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). They can make kidney problems worse. It is okay to take acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • Seek support from family, friends, and a counselor if you need it. Long-term illnesses can be difficult and stressful.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse nausea and vomiting.
  • You have much less urine than normal, or you have no urine.
  • You are feeling confused or cannot think clearly.
  • You have new or more blood in your urine.
  • You have new swelling.
  • You are dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you may faint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.



The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.