Acute glomerulonephritis is an acute renal disease coming on suddenly, often affecting children starting about 10 days after a throat infection. The majority make a quick recovery, but it may lead to death in some severe cases.
Acute Glomerulonephritis Symptoms
The disease is most common in children and adolescents, but may occur at any age. Scarlet fever (rare these days) or a “strep sore throat” are the common precipitating factors.
Sometimes there may be a chill or a cold. Generally the onset is rapid, with oedema blood in the urine and mildly elevated blood pressure. Sometimes it may come on gradually, with complaints of feeling off-colour, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, a headache and sometimes diarrhoea occurring before the onset of the renal symptoms. There may be respiratory symptoms and breathing difficulties in some. A high fever is not the rule, but temperature may be slightly elevated.
The urine is usually scanty, and it obviously contains a considerable amount of blood. Alternatively it might be bright red or merely “smoky.” When tested, the urine is always loaded with protein (or albumen, a type of protein that can be readily checked by simple tests). A few days later this may be followed by a sudden urinary output. This is a good sign, indicating the oedema may be reducing.
Any child or adolescent with symptoms of this nature must receive prompt medical attention. The doctor will carry out a few routine tests indicating the general nature of the disorder. At this stage the doctor will probably order further tests, or refer the patient to a specialist better versed in these fairly complex disorders, or to a hospital where full facilities for adequate investigation and therapy are available. On no account should the parent neglect symptoms of this nature, or try old-fashioned and foolish home remedies.
Expert medical advice is essential, for in some cases, serious consequences may occur.
Acute Glomerulonephritis Treatment
Treatment will be usually carried out in hospital. Bed rest is usually ordered in the early stages. Blood pressure and “fluid balance” records are kept. This is a chart indicating the fluid taken in and the fluid output over each 24-hour period. Appropriate medical tests and proper investigations will be started.
Often a low-protein, low-salt, high carbohydrate food intake is given. Bed rest is continued until the oedema is reduced, the blood in the urine has cleared up and the urine is free from protein. This may take several weeks. Any infection present will be treated with antibiotics. This is merely a brief outline of the probable line of treatment. Under the supervision of a specialist nephrologist, a line to suit the individual patient’s circumstances will, of course, take place.
With adequate therapy, the outlook for most patients is usually good, with about 80 – 90 per cent of patients recovering completely. Second attacks are considered to he unusual.