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When you hear that you might have glomerulonephritis — a type of kidney disease — your mind might start racing. How treatable is this? Is it damaging other parts of my body? What will this mean for my daily life?

This type of kidney disease can come on quickly (acute) or happen over a long time (chronic). No matter how it started for you, our expert team can work with you to create a treatment plan. At Cleveland Clinic, you receive compassionate care from experienced kidney care specialists (nephrologists). From testing to pinpointing the exact cause of your kidney disease to closely monitoring you throughout your treatment, we’ll be there to make sure your kidney function gets better as we go. 

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Glomerulonephritis Care?

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Collaborative care:

Lupus or vasculitis are common causes of glomerulonephritis. If you have these conditions, we work with your other healthcare providers to review your progress and talk about medication changes.

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Trusted experts:

Some causes of glomerulonephritis are more complex than others. Our pathologists and nephrologists are highly experienced in finding the cause of glomerulonephritis and crafting a treatment plan that’ll work for you. Meet Our Team

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Convenient care:

Glomerulonephritis treatment often includes intravenous (IV) therapy. Our on-site infusion center means you won’t have to travel far to get your infusions.

Glomerulonephritis diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic

Your journey might start with your primary care provider. They may refer you to a specialist if they think your kidneys aren’t working the way they should. You may have abnormal lab results or symptoms like swelling in your arms or legs, or changes in your pee.

At your appointment, your provider starts by ordering some lab tests. You provide a urine sample and give some blood (a blood draw). These tests help us understand how your kidneys are currently working and let us take a look at any possible causes of this condition.

Common causes of glomerulonephritis include:

  • Autoimmune diseases, like lupus or vasculitis.
  • Certain medications.
  • Viral infections.
  • Bacterial infections.

Based on your lab results, your provider may need to do more testing to determine the cause of the disease and pick the right treatment plan. We may use:

  • Imaging: An ultrasound or CT scan measures the size of your kidneys and lets us see any abnormalities, like tumors or blockages.
  • Kidney biopsy: We give you local anesthetic, so you’re awake but don’t feel any pain. Then we use a needle to sample a small amount of your kidney tissue. We send the tissue sample to our world-renowned pathology team to determine the cause of glomerulonephritis.

A member of our care team calls you with your imaging or kidney biopsy results. The next step is discussing your glomerulonephritis treatment options.

Glomerulonephritis treatment at Cleveland Clinic

Our compassionate providers are there for you throughout your treatment — supporting you and answering any questions you have. Your care team includes:

  • Nephrologists.
  • Nurse practitioners.
  • Physician assistants.
  • Infusion nurses.
  • Interventional radiologists.
  • Pathologists.

When it comes to your treatment, we tailor your plan to treat the cause of glomerulonephritis. Treatment may include:

Oral medication

Your provider may prescribe a diuretic (water pill) to reduce your swelling. We may recommend steroids or antibiotics to treat glomerulonephritis caused by an infection.

Infusion therapy

If  an autoimmune disease or vasculitis is causing your glomerulonephritis, we may recommend IV immune-suppressing medication. Our schedulers coordinate a convenient time for you to receive your infusion therapy. At our infusion center, experienced nurses deliver your treatment. Your provider will talk to you about how often you’ll need treatment sessions.

Lifestyle changes

We may recommend avoiding certain foods since glomerulonephritis reduces your kidneys’ ability to remove waste from your blood. Physical activity, quitting smoking and drinking less alcohol can help protect your kidneys, too.

Routine monitoring

Following treatment, you’ll have several follow-up appointments. Your provider may recommend maintenance therapy to prevent a flare-up of glomerulonephritis. We continue to watch your kidney function through urine and blood samples every few months. These regular visits help us detect any changes early on and adjust your treatment when needed.

Taking the Next Step

Learning that you have glomerulonephritis can bring with it a lot of questions. At Cleveland Clinic, we’re here to guide you through every step of the way. Together, we’ll make a plan that works for you and helps you enjoy your daily life.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s glomerulonephritis experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.

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