Bright’s Disease

    Bright’s Disease was a general term used to mean death caused by some form of kidney failure. It was a common term for kidney diseases that were defined by high concentrations of protein in the urine – uremia. The term is obsolete and no longer used.

    Glomerulernephritis, Polycystic Kidney Disease and Chronic Renal Failure were some of the diseases labeled as Bright’s disease by practitioners.

    In the 1700s and 1800s, Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) was often given the label of Bright’s Disease. PKD is a hereditary disease that is autosomal dominant. The gene is dominant, meaning that with each pregnancy there is a 50% chance of inheriting the disease. Glomerulonephritis, also called Protein Disease, is the term for the non-hereditary, serious kidney disease that was called Bright’s Disease. This is an inflammation and swelling of the kidney’s filtering system that was fatal in the early 1900s. This condition was often seen following infections of the respiratory tract by the strep germ. What we commonly now call strep throat. People died because there were no antibiotics to treat the strep infection and because there was no treatment for renal failure. Urine therapy was a common treatment for Bright’s disease in the late 1800s. Many people drank their own urine to try and cure Bright’s Disease. There is no significant data that suggests this was effective.

    Drinking urine for therapeutic purposes.

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