Acute Glomerulonephritis Treatment & Management

Updated: Sep 22, 2022
  • Author: Malvinder S Parmar, MBBS, MS, FRCPC, FACP, FASN; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Approach Considerations

Treatment of acute poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis (PSGN) is mainly supportive, because there is no specific therapy for renal disease. When acute glomerulonephritis (AGN) is associated with chronic infections, the underlying infections must be treated.

The expertise available in the intensive care unit may be needed for management of patients with hypertensive encephalopathy or pulmonary edema. Consultation with a nephrologist may be indicated. On an outpatient basis, kidney function, blood pressure, edema, serum albumin, and urine protein excretion rate should be monitored.

In a retrospective study from New Zealand, Wong et al examined the characteristics and treatment of acute PSGN in 27 pediatric patients and determined that the need for acute dialysis was most common among the 11 children in the study with crescentic glomerulonephritis. These authors also determined that urinary sediment abnormalities persisted in the patients with crescentic glomerulonephritis even after a mean follow-up period of 3.2 years and that the benefits of immunosuppressive therapy were unclear in these patients. [21]

Go to Emergent Management of Acute Glomerulonephritis and Acute Poststreptococcal Glomerulonephritis for complete information on these topics.


Pharmacologic Therapy


Antibiotics (eg, penicillin) are used to control local symptoms and to prevent spread of infection to close contacts. Antimicrobial therapy does not appear to prevent the development of glomerulonephritis, except if given within the first 36 hours. Antibiotic treatment of close contacts of the index case may help prevent development of PSGN.

Other agents

Consider the following:

  • Loop diuretics may be required in patients who are edematous and hypertensive, in order to remove excess fluid and to correct hypertension.
  • Vasodilator drugs (eg, nitroprusside, nifedipine, hydralazine, diazoxide) may be used if severe hypertension or encephalopathy is present.
  • Glucocorticoids and cytotoxic agents are of no value, except in severe cases of PSGN.

Diet and Activity

Sodium and fluid restriction should be advised for treatment of signs and symptoms of fluid retention (eg, edema, pulmonary edema). Protein restriction for patients with azotemia should be advised if there is no evidence of malnutrition.

Bed rest is recommended until signs of glomerular inflammation and circulatory congestion subside. Prolonged inactivity is of no benefit in the patient recovery process.


Long-Term Monitoring

Long-term studies on children with PSGN have revealed few chronic sequelae. Results of such studies are controversial because homogeneous populations suitable for proper epidemiologic analysis have not been assembled.

Long-term studies show higher mortality rates in elderly patients, particularly those on dialysis. Patients may be predisposed to crescent formation.