Glomeruli are clusters of small blood vessels in the kidney that allow waste to pass from the blood and into the urine. Glomerulonephritis occurs when the glomeruli swell, damaging the kidneys and interfering with the removal of waste, electrolytes, and excess fluids. Damage to the glomeruli may cause excess blood and protein to be lost in the urine. The condition can come on suddenly or develop over time and has multiple causes.

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1. Infection

A variety of infections can cause glomerulonephritis. For example, it may occur after a week or two recovering from strep throat or bacterial endocarditis, especially in people with heart defects. Viral infections like HIV and hepatitis can also cause it. The body produces extra antibodies when fighting infection, and they can settle in the glomeruli and cause inflammation.

strep throat infection Peter Dazeley / Getty Images
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