The News & Blog Post

RenalNews: Strep Throat and Kidney Damage – Post Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis (GN)

Strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils that causes pharyngitis, which is a sore throat accompanied with discomfort, pain, or scratchiness; usually making it hard to swallow. Group A Streptococcus bacteria is the germ which causes a strep throat infection. Click here for more information on the causes, symptoms, treatment, and how to prevent strep throat. Although symptoms of strep throat usually gets better within 24 – 48 hours, and treatment usually about 1 week with the use of antibiotics, untreated strep can lead to serious complications such as a rare kidney complication called post streptococcal glomerulonephritis.

Post Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis (GN) is a disorder of the kidneys developed after an individual is infected with certain strains of Streptococcus bacteria and they let it go untreated. GN is a form of glomerulonephritis.

Causes of Post Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis (GN)

Post Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis (GN) may develop about 1 – 2 weeks after an untreated throat infection, or 3 – 4 weeks after a skin infection. The strep bacterial infection causes the tiny vessels in the filtering units of the kidneys (glomeruli) to become inflamed; making the kidneys less able to filter.

Usually, the infection does not occur in the kidneys but in a different part of the body such as the skin and the throat.

Risk Factors:

  1. Strep Throat
  2. Streptococcal skin infections (such as impetigo)

Symptoms of Post Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis (GN)

As earlier mentioned, symptoms of Post Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis (GN) may develop about 1 – 2 weeks after an untreated throat infection, or 3 – 4 weeks after a skin infection. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Decreased urine output
  • Rust colored urine
  • Swelling (edema) – general swelling of the abdomen, swelling of the face or eyes, swelling of the feet, ankles, hands
  • Visible blood in the urine
  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness or swelling

How to Tell You Have Post Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis (GN)

Physical Exam:

  • Shows swelling (edema), especially in the face
  • Abnormal sounds when listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope (auscultation)
  • Blood pressure is often high


  • Anti-DNase B
  • Kidney biopsy
  • Serum ASO (and streptolysin O)
  • Serum complement levels
  • Urinalysis


Treatment of Post Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis (GN)

With no specific treatment for post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, treatment is usually focused on relieving symptoms. Such treatments may include:

  • Blood pressure medications and diuretic medications may be to control swelling and high blood pressure
  • Antibiotics (used to destroy and streptococcal bacteria that remain in the body)

Other common treatment includes:

  • Salt limitation in diet to control swelling and high blood pressure

Although Post Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis (GN) is rare today because treatment with antibiotics is usually effective in getting rid of the strep bacteria in the throat and skin, a small percentage of adults however end up with chronic kidney failure…end stage renal disease, which requires dialysis and a kidney transplant.

Prevention of Strep Throat

Treatment of streptococcal infections including the risk factors:

  1. Strep Throat
  2. Streptococcal skin infections (such as impetigo)

Possible Complications of Post Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis (GN)

Although post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis usually goes away by itself after several weeks to months, it may sometimes get worse in certain adults, and lead to chronic kidney failure, and other complications including:

  • Acute renal failure
  • Chronic glomerulonephritis
  • Chronic renal disease
  • Congestive heart failure or pulmonary edema
  • End-stage renal disease
  • Hyperkalemia
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Nephrotic syndrome


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