Glomerulonephritis in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

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. In this treatment, a machine does the work of the kidneys to clean wastes 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 call line 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 call line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her 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 your child's 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 your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has blood in his or her urine, or the urine turns dark (like cola).
  • Your child has back pain just below the rib cage. This is called flank pain.
  • Your child has a fever, chills, or body aches.

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

  • It hurts your child to urinate.
  • Your child has groin or belly pain.
  • Your child's face, arms, hands, legs, or feet swell, or any current swelling gets worse.

Where can you learn more?

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