Glomerular Disease

Glomeruli (sing. glomerulus) are a network of blood vessels that function as “cleaning units” in the kidney; they filter wastes from the blood and eliminate excess fluid.

Glomerular disease is the loss of function of glomeruli, which may be due to two broad forms of glomerular damage: glomerulonephritis (glomerular inflammation) or glomerulosclerosis (the scarring or hardening of the glomeruli. Glomerular damage results in the excretion of blood and protein through the urine and, in severe cases, kidney failure.


Refers to inflammation of the glomeruli.


Is the scarring or hardening of the glomeruli.

Frequently Asked Questions

Due to glomerular disease, the kidneys are unable to function correctly. As a result, damaged glomeruli leak some proteins and red blood cells into urine rather than continuing to circulate them in the blood. Protein deficiency in the blood keeps extra fluid in the body, causing swelling in the hands, feet, face, abdomen, and ankles.
Glomerular disease can be caused by infection, medication, or chemicals that harm the kidney, nephrons, or glomeruli.
Glomerular disease may result in pink or light brown urine due to blood in the urine; swelling in the ankles, hands, feet, or face; hypertension; or foamy urine, a sign of protein in the urine.

Urine and blood tests can confirm a diagnosis of glomerular disease. Protein or red blood cells in the urine are signs of improper kidney filtration, and white blood cells may be present in the urine due to an infection. Low protein in the blood is a sign of protein excretion through urine, and urea nitrogen and excess creatinine are waste products that can indicate poor kidney function if elevated in the blood. A blood test can also determine the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), a metric of kidney function.

Yes, glomerular disease can cause renal failure if the body cannot eliminate waste products, as the toxins will build up in the kidneys. The loss of renal function can occur over the course of days, weeks, or even decades.
Lifestyle changes to prevent glomerular disease include maintaining a healthy weight, decreasing salt and sugar consumption, monitoring blood pressure, and smoking cessation.
Patients receiving early diagnosis and treatment typically have the best outcomes in preventing or slowing kidney damage. However, renal replacement therapy, such as dialysis or a kidney transplant, will be necessary if the damage worsens.