What Factors Are Involved in a Nephritis Diagnosis?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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A nephritis diagnosis must take into consideration the symptoms and potential underlying causes of this type of kidney inflammation. Doctors will often take a full medical history, as well as discuss any existing symptoms in detail. A variety of laboratory tests can also be used to inform a nephritis diagnosis. Finally, a kidney biopsy may be performed to get the clearest, most direct results.

Since nephritis can develop from many different conditions, doctors must spend time going over all possible causes with the patient. Patients may be asked about their medical history — specifically any previous bladder or kidney problems. A family history of certain auto-immune conditions, such as lupus, can also be an indicator of the possible cause of the infection.

Doctors will also ask a patient to describe his or her symptoms. Common symptoms associated with a nephritis diagnosis include difficulty urinating, pain or burning sensation when urinating, or urine that appears bloody or cloudy. Other symptoms may include fever, nausea, swelling throughout the body, and extreme fatigue. Describing symptoms in detail is an important factor in a nephritis diagnosis, as it can help the doctor determine what laboratory tests are needed.


After speaking with the patient, doctors will usually order a battery of lab tests. These may include throat swabs, blood, and urine samples, which can be checked for signs of inflammation. A person with nephritis will usually have some sign of increased protein or blood cells in urine, and may show a buildup of urea in the blood. Throat swabs can show the presence of streptococcal bacteria, which can be responsible for acute cases of the condition. Doctors may also require iothalamate clearance testing, which requires patients to swallow or be injected with a contrast material that can let doctors see how fast the kidneys are filtering waste.

If tests are inconclusive, a patient may need to have a kidney biopsy. This is a relatively simple procedure that allows doctors to extract a small sample of kidney tissue using a needle, and is usually performed on an outpatient basis. Doing a biopsy allows a doctor direct access to the inflamed tissue, which can lead to a more conclusive nephritis diagnosis.

Based on the information gained through testing, doctors may be able to make a final diagnosis and create a treatment plan. Tests may show that the inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection or associated with an auto-immune disease, but a conclusive explanation of the exact underlying cause may not always be determined. Regardless, acute nephritis is often a highly treatable with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, while chronic nephritis can sometimes be managed with medications and a by following a special nephritis diet plan.



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