The kidneys are two organs located on either side of your spine in the middle of your back, just above the waist. Each kidney is 4 to 5 inches long and contains roughly 1 million nephrons. Each nephron has a filter called a glomerulus that filters the blood. They perform several life-sustaining roles: they remove waste and excess fluid, maintain the balance of salt and minerals in your blood, regulate blood pressure, aid in production vitamin D, and make erythropoietin, which helps in stimulating red blood cell production. When glomeruli become damaged, waste products build up in the body and cause: swelling in the ankles, vomiting, weakness, poor sleep, and shortness of breath. Damage to the glomeruli can also cause blood and protein to be lost in the urine. Loss of this function is called glomerulonephritis, a type of kidney disease, that is a serious and potentially fatal disease, if left untreated.
Glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the glomeruli in the kidneys. Also called glomerular disease, glomerulonephritis can be either acute or chronic. The acute form progresses suddenly and can develop after an infection in your throat or on your skin. Usually, no treatment is needed. Other times, treatment is needed to keep the infection from spreading and cause the kidneys to shut down. Symptoms of the acute disease are: puffiness of the face in the morning, hematuria, and low levels of urination. Chronic glomerulonephritis can take years to develop allowing symptoms of renal failure to progress slowly. Chronic glomerulonephritis can also develop after a bout of acute glomerulonephritis. Symptoms of the chronic form can include: hematuria, proteinuria, high blood pressure, edema, and frequent nighttime urination. One quarter of people with chronic glomerulonephritis have no history of kidney disease.
Conditions that can cause glomerulonephritis range from infections that affect your kidneys to diseases that affect your whole body....