Nephritis describes inflammation or infection of the kidneys. There are a number of causes and each is classified differently:
- Interstitial Nephritis – is when the interstitial tissue of the kidneys become inflamed and is usually due to a reaction to medications (e.g. NSAID’s, penicillin and sulphonamides) but can also result from a systemic bacterial infection. If related to medications, the inflammation usually subsides once the medication is stopped.
- Glomerulonephritis – is when the glomeruli in the kidneys become inflamed. It is mostly associated with other systemic diseases, including diabetes, malaria, hepatitis, or systemic lupus erythematosus. Each kidney has about 1 million glomeruli; they are very delicate structures that can easily become damaged. Glomerulonephritis is often painless and can lead to high blood pressure and progressive loss of kidney function.
- Pyelonephritis – is a bacterial infection that can occur via septicaemia (blood infection) or from bacteria travelling up the ureter from the bladder to the kidneys (this is often preceded by a urinary tract infection). Acute pyelonephritis is characterised by pus in the tubules and by abscess formation.
Signs and symptoms vary across the conditions and can include: Sore throat – Hematuria – (blood in the urine) – Diminished urine output – High Blood Pressure – Fatigue and lethargy – Rash, especially over the buttocks and legs – Headache – Fluid accumulation in the tissues (oedema) – Weight loss – Muscle cramps, especially at night – Shortness of breath – Proteinuria (excess proteins in the urine). Click here for signs and symptoms specific to Urinary Tract Infections.
Major risk factors include:
- Renal infection, especially with haemolytic Streptococci (e.g., strep throat). Glomerulonephritis usually occurs more than one week after an infection
- Systemic autoimmune disease such as systemic lupus erythematosus, polyarteritis nodosa, Wegener vasculitis, Henoch-Schönlein purpura
- Family history of glomerulonephritis. Glomerulonephritis can also result from a gene on the X chromosome passed on from carrier mothers (who have no features or minimal features of the problem) to their sons, who are affected with the disorder in 50% of the cases.
- Urinary Tract Infections or Cystitis (click here for more information on risk factors for UTI’s)
- Septicaemia (blood infection) and surgery of the bladder, kidney or ureter
- Specific medications (e.g. NSAID’s, penicillin and sulphonamides) or long term medication use
Treatment for Nephritis
Treatment strategies for nephritis are based on the individuals’ pathophysiology and their symptoms. Preventing bacterial infection is important as is an appropriate diet when dietary restrictions are indicated (e.g protein, sodium, potassium, fluid intake). Your medical practitioner or specialist will advise if any dietary or fluid restrictions are necessary.
Treatment priorities include:
- Repair of tissue and decreasing the damage to the renal tissue
- Reducing acute inflammation
- Eliminating possible infectious drivers. Preventing further infection
- Reducing oxidative stress
Following are examples of treatments used:
- Herbal Medicines: Astragalus, Echinacea, Rehmannia, Turmeric, Crataeva, Bilberry, Gotu Kola, Golden Rod, Buchu, Cornsilk, Sarsaparilla and others
- Nutrients: Selenium, Vitamin D3, EPA/DHA, CoQ10, Lipoic Acid, Zinc, Vitamin C, Magnesium and others
- Probiotics: Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), L. paracasei (LP-33), L. Plantarum (299v), Bifidobacterium lactis (BB-12) and others
- Diet: Anti-inflammatory diet, Identify food intolerances, low alcohol and caffeine, minimise processed foods. Dietary restrictions as per medical advice.
This information is not intended to replace medical advice. Please do not self-treat with the above herbal medicines – seek professional advice specific to your condition.