Treatment of glomerulonephritis varies greatly from person to person, depending on whether it's acute or chronic and on how much damage has been done to the kidneys.
For acute glomerulonephritis, the first goal is to reduce the symptoms and try to prevent more kidney damage. If high blood pressure (hypertension) has developed, it will be treated with anti-hypertensive medications (medications to lower blood pressure).
If the condition is due to a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed. It's very important to take antibiotics exactly as instructed for the full course of treatment, even if the symptoms of infection disappear after a few days of treatment. This is to make sure that the infection is truly gone. Viral infections can't be treated by antibiotics and must run their course.
Corticosteroids and medications to suppress the immune system may also be used to treat glomerulonephritis.
Your doctor might also prescribe a diuretic. Diuretics increase the body's urine output, causing you to urinate larger amounts more frequently. These medications are often referred to as "water pills." It's usually best to take diuretics in the morning or early afternoon to avoid having to get up often during the night to urinate.
Vitamin or mineral supplements may be recommended, depending on the results of the blood tests, to help keep the levels of electrolytes (e.g., sodium, calcium, and potassium) balanced. People with kidney problems might be advised to change to a diet that cuts down on the waste buildup in the bloodstream. These diets aren't usually needed if the kidney damage is mild.
The prognosis of glomerulonephritis depends on whether it's an acute, first-time episode or whether it's chronic. The cause of the inflammation is another important factor. If the inflammation is treated early, and the cause is treatable, and the kidney damage is minor, the prognosis is good.
In severe cases of glomerulonephritis, however, kidney damage can get worse, leading to chronic renal failure and other associated problems such as hypertension and heart failure. In severe cases, dialysis may be needed.
Dialysis isn't a cure, and people who are on dialysis must follow special diets, restrict fluids, and take medications as prescribed by their doctors. The type of dialysis performed - peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis - is chosen by the health care team according to individual needs. Dialysis removes excess fluids and waste using a membrane, instead of a kidney, as a filter.
If need be, your health care team will assess you for a kidney transplant. As frightening as this may be, kidney transplants are relatively common now and have a good success rate. Someone who has had a successful transplant can go on to live a normal, healthy life.
Glomerulonephritis can't really be anticipated, but doctors may be able to prevent some of the problems associated with the kidney damage if it's caught early enough.
If you have known risk factors for kidney failure, such as lupus, make sure you are aware of what signs and symptoms to watch for. Take any infections seriously and get treatment for them. If antibiotics are prescribed, take them as directed and for the full length of treatment.
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