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Glomerulonephritis in Children: Care Instructions

How the kidneys work


Glomerulonephritis (say "gluh-mair-yuh-loh-nih-FRY-tus") is inflammation of the part of the kidney that filters blood. This part is called the glomerulus.

Kidney problems can cause swelling in the face, belly, arms, hands, legs, or feet.

This problem can be caused by an infection or some medicines. It can also be caused by diseases such as diabetes or lupus. Sometimes the cause is not known.

This illness may get better with treatment. But it often leads to long-term (chronic) kidney disease.

Treatment may include:

  • Corticosteroid medicines. These reduce inflammation.
  • Immunosuppressive medicines. These reduce inflammation.
  • One or more medicines to lower blood pressure.
  • Dialysis, in some cases. This is a treatment that does the work for your child's kidneys to filter waste from the blood.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Follow the doctor's directions for limiting fluids, salt, and protein. Large amounts of these can make kidney problems worse.
    • Do not put salt on your child's food.
    • Avoid giving your child cured meats, such as sausage, bacon, and ham.
    • Avoid giving your child pickles and frozen packaged dinners.
    • Avoid giving your child canned vegetables (unless they are low in salt).
    • Read package labels to find out how much salt (sodium) is in a serving.
  • Do not give your child anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve). They can make kidney problems worse. It is okay to use acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • Seek support for you and your child from family, friends, and a counsellor if needed. Long-term illnesses can be difficult and stressful for you and your child.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse nausea and vomiting.
  • Your child has much less urine than normal or has no urine.
  • Your child is feeling confused or cannot think clearly.
  • Your child has new or more blood in the urine.
  • Your child has new swelling.
  • Your child is dizzy or light-headed, or feels about to faint.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.