What is acute nephritis?
Acute nephritis affects either of the two-bean shaped organs called the kidneys. Your kidneys have millions of tiny tubes called nephrons. In fact, the life of the kidney is the nephrons. Damage the nephrons; take away the life of the kidneys!
Every waste product from your body activities, except the gaseous ones can only be filtered into the urine through the nephrons. A notable example of a gaseous waste product in the body is carbon dioxide. Acute nephritis will, therefore, be described as the short-term damage to the kidney nephrons due to an infection. If quickly attended to, it can be cured. If not, it can cause more damage that can lead to failure in kidney functions altogether.
Out of about 120 to 150 quarts of blood that the nephrons process in a day, about 2 quarts of waste materials and excess body water are removed. This is according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (aka NIDDK).
Types of acute nephritis
The kidney has spaces located between tubules. These spaces are called interstitial spaces and can become inflamed. Inflammation will definitely cause the kidney to begin to swell.
Pyelonephritis is the inflammation of the kidney. The force behind the inflammation is a bacterium called E. coli.
The bladder happens to be the first place the infection starts. From there, it keeps moving until it gets to the kidneys.
This is a type of acute nephritis that occurs in the glomeruli. Glomeruli are specialized capillaries in the kidneys where blood is filtered. When they are infected, they will become inflamed. And just like every other body tissues, their function will be compromised. They will not be able to filter the blood well, again.
Causes of acute nephritis
Each of the different types of acute nephritis has different causes.
It is usually induced by allergic reactions to an antibiotic or some other medications. When you have an allergic reaction, your body reacts to a foreign substance immediately it gains access into your body. The doctor will never know whether you will react to a drug or not. But upon your reaction, he or she will take note of it and give you another one.
Low blood potassium can also cause interstitial nephritis. Potassium is a useful ion in the body that regulates metabolic processes and heartbeat amongst numerous other functions.
Long use of medications can cause untold damage to the kidneys’ tissues and consequently, interstitial nephritis.
The bacterium, E.coli, is responsible for most cases of pyelonephritis. They are primarily found in large amounts in the bowel. Most of these bacteria are lost in feces. Crazy ones can decide to take a trip to the urethra. Once they are in the urethra, they can readily get to the kidneys through the bladder. They ultimately cause pyelonephritis in the kidney.
Other likely causes include:
- Urinary tests that employ cystoscope. A cystoscope can help a doctor view the internal structure of the bladder.
- Surgical procedures involving the ureters, bladder, or kidneys.
- Presence of kidney stones.
Its cause isn’t yet known but the following conditions can promote it:
- immune system problems
- a history of cancer
- Ravaging abscess: It can get to the kidneys through the blood.
Who is at risk for acute nephritis?
The risk factors for acute nephritis include:
- a family history of kidney disease and infection
- presence of lupus, a disorder of the immune system
- excessive antibiotics use
- pain medications abuse
- recent urinary tract surgical operation
Symptoms of acute nephritis
Because of the different types of acute nephritis that exist, the symptoms you will have will be dependent on which of the types you have. Some symptoms are common amongst the three types. They are:
- painful urination characterized by a sense of burning
- urinary incontinence
- Cloudy urine
- blood-stained urine
- Pus-stained urine
- Abdominal pains
- Kidney pains
- Puffy feet, legs, and face
- Pelvic pains
- high blood pressure
Diagnosis of acute nephritis
Your medical history will be taken together with a physical examination by your doctor.
Laboratory tests such as blood and urine test will be performed on you. Blood cells (white blood cells), bacteria, and blood will be found in your urine if you have acute nephritis.
If these two waste products, creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN), are detected in our blood, you will be diagnosed with acute nephritis. It means your kidneys have been infected and damaged because they are laden with the responsibility of filtering all waste products from the body. Your doctor will confirm this by running a renal ultrasound or CT scan on you.
Any of these imaging tests might not be sufficient to conclude you have a kidney disease responsible for your acute nephritis. In this case, some tissue will be extracted from your kidney for further assays. This is called a biopsy. A biopsy will also be carried out on an acute nephritis patient who isn’t responding to treatment.
Treatment for acute nephritis
Glomerulonephritis and interstitial nephritis will require that the underlying cause is identified and treated. If the cause is the medication you’re taking, for instance, you will have to stop taking it at once. Your doctor will then recommend another medication that doesn’t have negative impacts on kidney structure and functions for you.
If there is an underlying infection in the kidney, antibiotics will be given to you. The antibiotics will be intravenous if the infection is very severe. Intravenously administered antibiotics work faster than pills because they are deposited directly into the blood.
Pyelonephritis infections most times, come with serious pains. Prescription pain medications will be given by your doctor. It will help you feel relieved from pains.
In conditions characterized by gross kidney inflammation, corticosteroids will be the perfect medication.
When it is realized that your kidneys are not functioning as they ought to, intravenous fluids and supplements will be used to rescue the situation. If your electrolytes are very low, you will be given supplements to restore your electrolyte balance. And if your electrolytes are high, you will be placed on an intravenous fluid to normalize the electrolyte. Three important electrolytes are sodium, chloride, and magnesium because they are chiefly involved in maintaining electrolyte balance.
The supplements most times are potassium and phosphorus pills. Ask for recommendations from your doctor before you take any supplement.
If you have a seriously impaired kidney due to infection, dialysis might be an option. Through an artificial machine, you will be able to filter your blood. If the kidney impairment is beyond repair, you might have to be using dialysis permanently.
Every sick body needs sufficient time to heal. So is it with having acute nephritis. So don’t be surprised if your doctor insists you stay away from all forms of activities that can stress you. You need the best rest.
Your body also needs sufficient fluids to stay hydrated. So, your doctor won’t be wrong if he recommends that you increase your fluid intake. Besides, your body needs plenty of water to clear waste substances out of the blood.
If your condition affects your kidney function, your doctor may recommend a special diet low in certain electrolytes, such as potassium. Many fruits and vegetables are high in potassium. Your doctor may instruct you regarding which foods are low in potassium.
There is a way you can cut down on your potassium intake. It is described as leaching. In leaching, some extra potassium will be removed from the vegetable you intend to use to cook. To do this, the vegetable will be soaked in water and then drained after a couple of minutes.
High-sodium foods will have to be scarce in your diets. Sodium increases water retention in the body. When your kidney can no longer work well, it can be helped by cutting down on the amount of sodium you consume. Avoid sodium-blended salts or seasonings. Prepackaged foods have high sodium content: stay away from them. Go for vegetables and fresh meat rather. When you buy foods with a label, check the label to ensure that the sodium content is low or absent. Whenever you decide to eat out in a restaurant, always remember to instruct the chef to limit the salt added to your dish.
All three types of acute nephritis will improve with immediate treatment. However, if your condition goes untreated, you may develop kidney failure. Kidney failure occurs when one or both kidneys stop working for a short time or permanently. If that happens, you may need dialysis permanently. For this reason, it’s vital to seek immediate treatment for any suspected kidney issues.