Nephritis, Kidney Inflammation | Tampa General Hospital


Nephritis causes one or both kidneys to become inflamed and leak protein into the urine. 

Nephritis is an inflammation of the kidneys. These important organs clean the blood by filtering out excess fluid and toxins, then eliminate those waste products from the body in the form of urine. Healthy kidneys do not remove proteins from the blood, which help the body absorb water. However, inflamed kidneys can leak protein into the urine, which can impair the body’s ability to absorb water and lead to tissue swelling.

Causes of Nephritis

While nephritis may be related to an infection, it more often results from an autoimmune condition such as lupus, which causes the body’s immune system to inadvertently attack the kidneys and other organs and tissues throughout the body.

Symptoms of Nephritis

Nephritis does not always cause noticeable symptoms. Some possible warning signs include:

  • Foamy, bubbly or dark-colored urine
  • Infrequent urination
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles or feet
  • Weight gain from water retention
  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness
  • High blood pressure

Diagnosis of Nephritis

If nephritis is suspected, a physician will typically perform a physical examination and order one or more diagnostic tests, such as:

  • A blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test
  • A creatinine blood test
  • A urinalysis
  • A kidney biopsy

Treatments for Nephritis

Nephritis treatment centers on reducing kidney inflammation and addressing its underlying cause. Some options include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Dietary changes to limit consumption of salt, potassium and protein
  • Reduced fluid intake
  • Medications to control high blood pressure
  • Antibiotic treatment for a related infection

In severe cases, dialysis or a kidney transplant may be considered if necessary to restore kidney function.

Tampa General Hospital offers the latest diagnostic and treatment options for all forms of kidney disease, including nephritis. Our kidney transplant program is widely regarded as one of the best in the nation.