Nephritic Syndrome

What is nephritic syndrome?

Nephritic syndrome is a collection of different signs and symptoms that occur as a result of inflammation in the kidneys. This inflammation causes the kidneys to work less effectively. It also causes protein and red blood cells to leak from the bloodstream into the urine. This condition can occur in people of all ages. There are many conditions that can cause nephritic syndrome. Common causes are infections, immune system disorders and inflammation of blood vessels. The main symptoms are passing less urine than normal and having blood in the urine. People with nephritic syndrome often develop high blood pressure. Treatment depends on the underlying cause, but usually involves treating the high blood pressure and reducing the inflammation in the kidneys. Although many people recover well from nephritic syndrome, some people may go on to develop renal failure.

Risks

In people who have nephritic syndrome, inflammation causes damage to the glomeruli (the filter units in the kidneys). This causes the kidneys to not be able to filter correctly, and to leak red blood cells and protein from the bloodstream into the urine. As the kidneys also regulate blood pressure, this damage can lead to high blood pressure. This condition can occur in people of all ages. Common causes are infections, immune system disorders and inflammation of blood vessels.

Symptoms

The typical symptoms include passing less urine than normal, having blood in the urine, and swelling of the feet or face. Other possible symptoms are back pain, headache, shortness of breath and symptoms related to the underlying cause (rash, joint pain, etc.).

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is based on the physical examination and analysis of the urine. People with nephritic syndrome tend to have high blood pressure. A dipstick test will show blood and protein in the urine. A kidney biopsy (sample from the kidney) may be taken to investigate the cause of the nephritic syndrome.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the underlying causes. Medications are used to treat the high blood pressure, and to reduce inflammation in the kidneys.

Other names for nephritic syndrome

  • Acute nephritis