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Poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis (GN)

Glomerulonephritis - poststreptococcal; Postinfectious glomerulonephritis

Poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis (GN) is a disorder of the kidneys that occurs after infection with certain strains of streptococcus bacteria.

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Kidney anatomy

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Causes

Poststreptococcal GN is a form of glomerulonephritis. It is caused by an infection with a type of streptococcus bacteria. The infection does not occur in the kidneys, but in a different part of the body, such as the skin or throat.

The strep bacterial infection causes the tiny blood vessels in the filtering units of the kidneys (glomeruli) to become inflamed. This makes the kidneys less able to filter the urine.

Poststreptococcal GN is uncommon today because infections that can lead to the disorder are commonly treated with antibiotics. The disorder may develop 1 to 2 weeks after an untreated throat infection, or 3 to 4 weeks after a skin infection.

It may occur in people of any age, but it most often occurs in children ages 6 through 10. Although skin and throat infections are common in children, poststreptococcal GN is a rare complication of these infections.

Risk factors include:

Symptoms

Symptoms may include any of the following:

Exams and Tests

A physical examination shows swelling (edema), especially in the face. Abnormal sounds may be heard when listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. Blood pressure is often high.

Other tests that may be done include:

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for this disorder. Treatment is focused on relieving symptoms.

You may need to limit salt in the diet to control swelling and high blood pressure.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Poststreptococcal GN usually goes away by itself after several weeks to months.

In small number of adults, it may get worse and lead to long-term (chronic) kidney failure. Sometimes, it can progress to end-stage kidney disease, which requires dialysis and a kidney transplant.

Possible Complications

Health problems that may result from this disorder include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

Prevention

Treating known streptococcal infections may help prevent poststreptococcal GN.

Related Information

Glomerulonephritis
Antigen
Antibody
Complement
High blood pressure - adults
Strep throat
Impetigo
Acute kidney failure
High potassium level
End-stage kidney disease
Heart failure - overview
Pulmonary edema

References

Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF. Glomerulonephritis associated with infections. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 511.

Pendergraft WF, Nachman PH, Jennette JC, Falk RJ. Primary glomerular disease. In: Skorecki K, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, Taal MW, Yu ASL, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 32.

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Review Date: 8/1/2017  

Reviewed By: Walead Latif, MD, nephrologist and Clinical Associate Professor, Rutgers Medical School, Newark, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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