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What is glomerular disease?

Glomerular disease refers to various diseases, including glomerulosclerosis and chronic and acute glomerulonephritis. Kidneys are made up of millions of nephrons that filter and remove fluid and waste from the kidneys and turn it into urine. When glomeruli are damaged, red blood cells can leak into the urine and waste products can begin to build up in the blood.


The symptoms of glomerular disease include:

  • Foamy urine: This indicates large amounts of protein in the urine, a condition called proteinuria.
  • Pink or cola-colored urine: This indicates the presence of blood in the urine, a condition called hematuria.
  • Swelling in the hands and ankles: This swelling, known as edema, often occurs at the end of the day. Swelling around the eyes can be noticeable upon awakening.
  • Reduced glomerular filtration rate: This indicates inefficient filtering of wastes from the blood.
  • Hypoproteinemia: Low blood protein.


Many different kinds of diseases can cause swelling or scarring of the nephron or glomerulus.Glomerular diseases include many conditions that are the result of various genetic and environmental causes. Glomerular disease can be caused by an infection or a drug that is toxic to the kidneys. It can be caused by diabetes, lupus and other systemic diseases that affect the entire body. Sometimes glomerular disease is idiopathic, which means it occurs without an apparent associated disease.


There are two major types of glomerular diseases, and both can lead to kidney failure.

Glomerulonephritis is a type of glomerular kidney disease in which the kidneys' filters (glomeruli composed of tiny blood vessels) become inflamed and scarred, and slowly lose their ability to remove wastes and excess fluid from the blood to make urine. Types of glomerulonephritis include kidney disease of diabetes, IgA nephropathy and lupus nephritis.

Glomerulosclerosis is the term used to describe scarring that occurs within the kidneys in the collections of tiny blood vessels called the glomeruli. The glomeruli assist the kidneys in filtering urine from the blood.

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