The kidneys contain many coils of tiny blood vessels. Each of these is called a glomerulus. Glomeruli filter substances from the blood into the urine. Glomerulonephritis is a type of kidney disease where these coils become inflamed. This makes it hard for the kidneys to filter the blood.
Glomerulonephritis can be caused by diseases such as:
A child is more at risk for glomerulonephritis if he or she has:
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:
The symptoms of glomerulonephritis can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He or she may also ask about your family’s health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam. Your child may also have tests, such as:
Most children with kidney disease see both a pediatrician or family doctor and a nephrologist. A nephrologist is a healthcare provider with special training to treat kidney problems.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is, and the cause. Treatments focus on slowing the progression of the disease and preventing complications.
Treatment may include changes to your child’s diet. Your child may need to limit:
Treatment may include medicines to:
In some cases, a child may develop severe problems with electrolytes. This may cause dangerous levels of waste products in the blood that are normally removed by the kidneys. A child may also develop fluid overload. A child may need dialysis in these cases.
Dialysis is a procedure that filters waste and extra fluid from the blood. This is normally be done by the kidneys. There are 2 types of dialysis.
This can be done at home. This method uses the lining of the belly (abdominal) cavity to filter the blood. This cavity is the space that holds organs such as the stomach, intestines, and liver. The lining is called the peritoneum.
First, a surgeon places a thin, flexible tube (catheter) into your child’s belly. After the tube is placed, a sterile cleansing fluid (dialysate) is put through the catheter into the peritoneal cavity. The fluid is left in the belly for a period of time. This fluid absorbs the waste products through the peritoneum. The fluid is then drained from the belly, measured, and discarded. This process of filling and draining fluid is called an exchange.
This is done in a dialysis center or hospital by healthcare providers. A special type of access, called an arteriovenous (AV) fistula, is placed during a small surgery. This fistula is an artery and a vein that are joined together. It is usually done in your child's arm. An external IV (intravenous) catheter may also be inserted. This is less common for long-term dialysis.
Your child will then be connected to a large hemodialysis machine. Blood is pumped through a tube into the machine to filter out the wastes and extra fluid. The filtered blood then flows through another tube back into your child's body.
Hemodialysis is usually done several times a week. Each session lasts for 4 to 5 hours. It may be helpful to bring games or reading materials for your child to keep him or her busy during this procedure.
Talk with your child’s healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all treatments.
If glomerulonephritis does not go away, it may lead to kidney failure.
Call the healthcare provider if your child has:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
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