About Post-Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis

Key points

  • Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (PSGN) is an inflammatory disease affecting the kidneys.
  • It's rare, but PSGN can develop after strep throat, scarlet fever, or impetigo.
  • Symptoms of PSGN usually point to kidney issues and long-term kidney damage can occur.
  • Treatment usually focuses on managing swelling and blood pressure but can include antibiotics.
A doctor holds a tablet displaying a kidney illustration

What it is

PSGN is a kidney disease that is thought to be an immune response to an earlier bacterial infection.

As the body's defense system, the immune system is important in fighting off infections. But the immune system can mistakenly attack healthy parts of the body and cause damage.


After strep throat or scarlet fever symptoms start: PSGN can develop about 10 days later.

After impetigo symptoms start: PSGN can develop about 3 weeks later.

Someone with PSGN usually has protein in the urine and hypertension (high blood pressure). Symptoms can also include:

  • Dark, reddish-brown urine
  • Decreased need to pee or decreased amount of urine
  • Edema (swelling)
  • Fatigue due to anemia (feeling tired due to low blood iron levels)

The swelling occurs especially in the face, around the eyes, and in the hands and feet.

Some people may have no symptoms or symptoms that are so mild that they don't seek medical help.


Most people who develop PSGN recover within a few weeks without any complications. While rare, long-term kidney damage, including kidney failure, can occur. These rare complications are more common in adults than children.

Risk factors

Anyone can get PSGN after having strep throat, scarlet fever, or impetigo. People at increased risk for those infections are also at increased risk for getting PSGN.


PSGN is more common in children than adults.

After strep throat or scarlet fever

Developing PSGN after strep throat or scarlet fever is most common in young, school-age children.

After impetigo

Developing PSGN after impetigo is most common in preschool-age children.


PSGN can develop after infections caused by group A Streptococcus (group A strep bacteria), specifically:

PSGN is not a group A strep infection of the kidneys. Instead PSGN results from the body's immune system fighting off strep throat, scarlet fever, or impetigo.

Spread to others

People cannot catch PSGN from someone else. However, if someone with PSGN is still infected with group A strep bacteria, they can spread the bacteria to others. Group A strep bacteria are contagious.


The main way to prevent PSGN is to prevent group A strep infections like strep throat, scarlet fever, and impetigo.

Testing and diagnosis

Healthcare providers can diagnose PSGN in a number of ways, including

  • Looking at a patient's medical history
  • Testing urine samples to look for protein and blood
  • Ordering blood tests to see how well the kidneys are working
  • Testing to see if the patient recently had a group A strep infection

Treatment and recovery

Treatment of PSGN focuses on managing symptoms as needed. Healthcare providers limit salt and water intake or prescribe a diuretic to decrease swelling. A diuretic is a medicine that increases the flow of urine.

Healthcare providers prescribe blood pressure medicine to manage the patient's blood pressure.


People with PSGN who still have a group A strep infection are often given antibiotics.