Nephritis refers to an inflammation of the kidneys. It is a serious condition and may be either acute or chronic. A synonnym for nephritis is Bright’s Disease. It was Bright, (1789 - 1858), who described examples of many different diseases which can be included under this term.
This disease most often strikes in childhood. It can become progressively worse and result in death, if not treated properly in the initial stages. In the alternative, it may turn into a chronic stage.
Often, children suffer from sore throat, tonsillitis, boils or scabies two or three weeks before the onset of the disease. The condition has a sudden onset with fever and backache. Swelling occurs around the eyelids and on the face giving a puffy appearance. Later, swelling extends to feet, ankles, legs and other parts of the body. The urine passage may be scanty and highly coloured. It may contain blood, albumin and casts consisting of clumps of red and white cells which come from the damaged kidneys.
In the chronic stage of nephritis, which may drag on for many years, the patient passes large amounts of albumin in the urine. Later, there may be rise in blood pressure and the patient may develop uraemia. There may be frequent urination, especially during night.
Nephritis usually follows some streptococcus infection of the throat or an attack of scarlet fever or theumatic fever. The underlying causes of nephritis are, however, the same as for diseases of the kidney in general, namely, wrong feeding habits, the suppressive medical treatment of former diseases, the habitual use of chemical agents of all kinds for the treatment of indigestion and other stomach disorders and frequent use of aspirin and other painkillers.
Nutritional deficiencies can also lead to nephritis. The disease can result from a diet lacking in vitamin B1 and choline. It can also be caused by a diet deficient in essential fatty acids and magnesium. When vitamin B6 and magnesium are undersupplied, the kidneys are further damaged by sharp crystals of oxalic acid combined with calcium.
As there is damage to the kidneys in nephritis, the treatment should essentially be directed towards reducing the workload of kidneys. This can be achieved by giving rest to the body and to the kidneys. The body should be covered with warm clothing and blankets. Lurking infections of the throat or other parts of the body should be treated through natural methods.
Diet also plays an important role in the treatment of nephritis. The intake of fluid, salt and protein should be restricted. The intake of fluid can be gradually increased as the output of urine increases. The intake of salt causes the retention of water in the tissues and it should therefore be completely eliminated from the diet. The intake of protein should also be kept to the minimum as the breakdown of protein substances results in the formation of urea and it is not excreted freely by the damaged kidney. The diet given must supply adequate calories from carbohydrate and fat sources.
In early stages of the disease the child-patient should be given barley water, fruit and vegetable juices with small quantities of milk. Vegetables juices such as carrot, celery and cucumber will be especially beneficial. If possible, warm water enema should be given each day during this period to clease the bowels.
After noticeable improvements, the child-patient may adopt fruit and milk diet for further three or four days. In this regimen he should take juicey fruits such as apple, grapes,orange, pear, peach, and pineapple with a cup of milk, preferably goat’s milk, sweetened with honey added to each fruit meal. Thereafter, the child -patient may be allowed gradually to embark upon a well-balanced diet, according to his age. The emphasis should be on fresh fruits and raw or lightly cooked vegetables.
The patient should avoid vegetables containing large quantities of oxalic acids such as spinach and rhubarb. Chocolate and cocoa also contain oxalic acid and must not be used. The patient should also avoid white bread, sugar, cakes, pastries, puddings, refined cereals, greasy, heavy or fried foods. He should also avoid tea, coffee, all flesh foods, condiments, pickles and sauces.
Garlic, parsley, watercress, cucumber and celery are excellent vegetables for nephritis. Best fruits are papaya and bananas. Both have healing effect on kidneys. A small amount of soured milks and home -made cottage cheese can be included in the diet. Five or six small meals should be taken in prefernce to a few large ones.
Half a glass of carrot juice with a teaspoon of honey and half a teaspoon of fresh lime juice, is a very effective home remedy for nephritis. It should be taken everyday in the morning before breakfast.
Bananas are also valuable in nephritis because of their low protein and salt contents and high carbohydrates contents. They should be consumed liberally by the child-patient.
All measures should be adopted to relieve the kidneys of over work by increasing elimination through other channels. Fresh air and outdoor exercises will be of great benefit in all cases of nephritis and grown-up children should be encouraged to undertake them whenere possible.
If the above treatment is faithfully carried out, the patient of acute nephritis will soon be on the way to recovery. Even in advanced cases of chronic nephritis, the sufferer’s condition will improve with this treatment.