Patient's Complete Guide to Nephrotic Syndrome

Overview of Nephrotic Syndrome

In nephrotic syndrome, the glomeruli have damaged that result in too much loss of albumin (protein). This condition is associated with swelling on the ankles, foot and around the eyes.

Signs and Symptoms of Nephrotic Syndrome

The kidney is an important organ in the body that is involved in the process of excretion. Two bean-shaped kidneys are present in the abdomen area. Normally, kidneys clean the blood and remove waste material by making urine. They are also involved in the regulation of certain minerals such as Na, K, and Ca.
Glomeruli-network of tiny blood vessels is involved in the filtration of blood. In nephrotic syndrome (نیفروٹک سنڈروم) the glomeruli have damaged that result in too much loss of albumin (protein). This condition is associated with swelling on the ankles, feet and around the eyes. This kidney problem increases the risks of infections and blood clots. Complications can be prevented by proper diet and medications.

Occurrence of Nephrotic Syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome is the most common kidney problem in children around the world. According to reports, its incidence rate is 2-7/100,000 children. This syndrome often affects Asians and Africans suggests that environmental and genetic factors can be the major contributors.

Types of Nephrotic Syndrome

Some common signs and symptoms of nephrotic syndrome are:

  • Severe swelling (oedema), around eyes and on ankles and feet
  • Weight gain due to fluid retention
  • Foamy urine, due to protein excretion in urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue

Risk Factors of Nephrotic Syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome is often caused by injured glomeruli-tiny blood vessels in the kidneys.

Glomeruli filter the blood coming to the kidneys. It separates the substance required for the body from waste materials. Healthy glomeruli keep the albumin protein that maintains the level of fluid in the body from excreting in the urine. However, if these tiny vessels are damaged, the albumin starts to release in the urine and cause nephrotic syndrome.
Various conditions can cause glomerular damage, hence nephrotic syndrome, such as:

  • Diabetic Kidney Disease: Diabetes often damages the kidney, a condition known as diabetic nephropathy. This condition can further damage the glomeruli.
  • Minimal Change Disease: Minimal change disease occurs due to the loss of albumin in the urine. It affects normal body function. This condition can cause nephrotic syndrome in children. The exact cause of this disease is unknown.
  • Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis: This abnormality is associated with scarring of the glomeruli. It can occur due to genetic causes, certain medicines or some unknown reason.
  • Membranous Nephropathy: Membranous nephropathy is a condition in which walls of glomeruli are thickened. Thickening occurs due to the deposition of substances produced by the immune system. It can also occur due to other conditions such as lupus, malaria, cancer or hepatitis B.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: This is a persistent inflammatory disease that can cause severe damage to the kidney.

Prevention

There are some factors that can increase the risk of a nephrotic syndrome such as:

Certain Medical Conditions: There are certain medical conditions that can increase the risk of a nephrotic syndrome such as

  • Diabetes
  • Reflux nephropathy
  • Lupus
  • Kidney diseases
  • Amyloidosis

Certain Drugs: Certain medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or antibiotics can damage the glomeruli and cause nephrotic syndrome.
Certain Infections: Some viral infections can increase the risk of a nephrotic syndrome such as:

  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Malaria

Health-Related Complications of Nephrotic Syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome can cause some serious complications such as:

  • Blood Clots: With nephrotic syndrome, glomeruli are no longer able to filter the blood properly. Some proteins required to prevent clotting are also released from the body. This condition causes the development of blood clots in the veins.
  • Increase in Cholesterol Level: Due to nephrotic syndrome level of albumin is decreased in the blood. As a result, the liver started to produce albumin. However, along with albumin cholesterol and triglycerides are also released. This causes an increase in blood cholesterol levels.
  • Poor Nutrition: Too much decrease in albumin can cause malnutrition. It can result in weight loss, anaemia and vitamin D deficiency.
  • High Blood Pressure: Blood pressure can be increased due to the accumulation of waste and body fluids.
  • Acute Kidney Injury: If kidneys are no longer able to remove toxic wastes and extra fluid, it leads to acute kidney injury. In this condition, the kidney requires either dialysis or a kidney transplant.
  • Infections: People with nephrotic syndrome can easily develop certain infections.

Diagnosis

There is nothing that can be done to prevent all the causes of nephrotic syndrome. But different measures can be taken in order to avoid damage to your glomeruli:

  • Manage your blood pressure and diabetes if you have any of them.
  • Make sure that you are getting all your vaccinations done for common infections. Especially if you work around people who have hepatitis.
  • Take your antibiotics if your doctor has prescribed them, even if you start to feel better.

Treatment of Nephrotic Syndrome | When to Consult a Doctor

Nephrotic syndrome can be diagnosed by the following tests and procedures:

  • Urine Tests: These tests help the doctor to determine the main cause of the symptoms appearing.
  • Blood Tests: Blood tests are performed to estimate the level of albumin. With nephrotic syndrome, the level of albumin and some other certain proteins is decreased. Drop-in albumin protein results in increased cholesterol levels in the blood. Overall kidney function can be assessed by the creatinine and urea levels in the blood.
  • Biopsy: In this procedure, a small piece of tissue is cut from the suspicious area of the kidney. Further, the cells are examined in the lab for the signs of nephrotic syndrome.

Healthcare Providers

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Speciality for Nephrotic Syndrome

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