Acute Nephritis

This is an inflammation of BOTH kidneys, usually affecting school age children and teenagers, characterized by one or more of the following:

  • Often there has been an infection within the past month.
  • Urine color may be dark, tea colored, or brown
  • Swelling, particularly of the face, due to less urine than normal being produced (water is retained)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • The urine will test positive for both blood & protein
  • Blood tests may demonstrate reduced kidney function & evidence of exposure to strep or some other infection
  • Blood concentration of complement (C3) is characteristically low if acute nephritis follows strep infection

Hospitalization may be required if blood pressure is high &/or if kidney function is significantly reduced.

NO specific treatment will help the kidneys recover faster.


  • The child is to be maintained on a low salt diet (to help high blood pressure & minimize swelling)
  • Blood pressure should be measured frequently
  • The child should weighed at least daily, to judge how much fluid is accumulating
  • A “water pill” may be used to help the child make more urine, thus reducing swelling & blood pressure

Course & Outcome:

  • Within several days:
    • The urine will be gradually lighter in color
    • Swelling will improve as more urine is produced
    • Hypertension will improve
    • Kidney function, as measured by blood tests, will improve
  • Within a few weeks, the urine will no longer test positive for protein
  • Within a few months, red blood cells, as seen under the microscope, will disappear from the urine
  • Almost all children with uncomplicated acute nephritis have an excellent outcome, with no permanent kidney damage

Should this not be the case, a kidney biopsy may be required to determine if chronic nephritis, a more serious condition, is present.