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Nephritis (Inflammation of the Kidneys)

Human Kidneys

Nephritis is simply an inflammation of the kidneys. The kidneys work hard filtering out waste and excess fluid from the body. When the kidneys become swollen, their abilities to function properly are impaired. This causes the body to accumulate excess water and waste in the blood stream, and blood and protein may be spilled in the urine. Depending on the underlying cause, the condition can be mild and unnoticed or extremely serious.


Almost half of people suffering from nephritis do not get any noticeable symptoms. For those who do develop symptoms, they may include dark colored or foamy urine, a change in the amount of urine produced (either reduced or increased), blood in the urine, unintentional weight loss, frequent hiccups, swelling in the legs, face or around the eyes, headaches, nausea, fatigue, fever, an increase in blood pressure, or abdominal and joint pain in more severe cases. You may also notice generalized itching, easy bruising, decreased alertness, twitching muscles or cramping, seizures, increased skin pigmentation (it may appear yellow or brown) and a decreased sensation in the hands, feet or other areas.


Nephritis can result from many underlying problems. Infections from strep throat, HIV, hepatitis and urinary tract infections can lead to this problem. It can be a side effect from certain antibiotics and diuretic medications, as well as certain poisons. It may be a symptom of an autoimmune disorder like lupus, a cancer like myeloma, or a disease of the blood vessels like vasculitis. Diabetes and high blood pressure can cause scarring of the kidneys that sometimes can lead to nephritis. It can also be part of an inherited condition.


Some people only manifest symptoms when nephritis becomes severe enough to cause kidney failure. If you feel you have symptoms, see a doctor for diagnosis. If it is mild, it can be cured quickly. If it is due to a more serious problem, it can cause kidney damage, disease or renal failure, so see a professional to get it diagnosed and treated.

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