Nephrotic Syndrome is a type of kidney disorder characterizing a group of symptoms that causes the body to pass excess protein via urine, and lead to absence of protein in the body and presence of excess fat or cholesterol in your blood, and swelling in the feet and ankles interpreting that the kidneys are not functioning properly.
Inside the kidney, the small blood vessels, also known as ‘glomeruli’ function as a filter, that helps in clearing wastes and extra water. These bodily wastes move to the bladder and are expelled from the body in the form of urine. When these filters are damaged, the kidneys do not work efficiently and allow excess protein to pass through the body resulting in this painful syndrome. It is usually treatable and can affect both children and adults.
A healthy glomerulus chiefly keeps blood protein (mainly the albumin part) that is required by the body to maintain optimum weight of fluid in the body and prevent the protein from escaping the body. Nephrotic syndrome usually arises when the filters or glomeruli within either kidney get damaged and stop functioning properly while allowing too much blood protein to leave your body.
Glomerular damage leading to the nephrotic condition can occur due to several underlying health factors. These include:
Diabetic Kidney Disease: Diabetes can often cause diabetic nephropathy affecting the glomeruli and leading to kidney damage.
Membranous Nephropathy: Certain health conditions like lupus, malaria, hepatitis B or cancer can result in thickening of the glomerular membrane inhibiting proper functions of the kidney.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: This chronic inflammatory disease can often impair healthy kidney functions and lead to serious kidney damage.
Minimal Change Disease: One of the most common causative causes for nephrotic syndrome in children, minimal change disease causes abnormal kidney functions often leading to damage.
Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis: A genetic defect or intake of medications can scar some of the glomeruli causing kidney damage.
Amyloidosis: When amyloid proteins accumulate in the organs, the kidneys often get damaged resulting in nephrotic syndrome.
Certain causative factors that increase the risk of Nephrotic syndrome include:
Health Conditions: Medical anomalies like diabetes, reflux nephropathy, lupus, amyloidosis, and other kidney diseases may make a person more prone to nephrotic syndrome as well.
Medications: Intake of medicines like Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or the ones used to fight infections aggravates the risk of getting this kidney disorder as well.
Children: Kids who are not treated with strep infection yet has an increased chance of getting diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome.
The common signs and symptoms that characterize nephrotic syndrome include:
- Edema, i.e., excessive swelling particularly around the ankles, feet and eyes
- Increase in body weight due to fluid retention
- Foamy urine, a resultant of excess protein in the urine
- Proteinuria, due to presence of excessive protein
- Hyperlipidemia, due to high fat and cholesterol levels
- Hypoalbuminemia, absence of albumin in the blood
- Loss of appetite
Diagnosis And Treatment
On noticing the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, do consult a doctor right away to get diagnosed and treated at the earliest. The doctor usually does a thorough physical checkup, acknowledges your past medical history and conducts the following diagnostics. These include:
- Urine test
- Blood test
- Biopsy of kidney
After diagnosing the condition and the actual causative factor correctly, the doctor mainly focusses on treating and managing the underlying condition to provide relief from nephrotic syndrome. These include:
- Blood pressure medications
- Immune system-suppressing medications
- Blood thinners (anti-coagulants)
- Cholesterol reducing medications
Along with the prescribed medications, the doctor also asks the patient to make some lifestyle modifications including:
- Opting a low-salt diet to help control swelling in different parts.
- Reducing the amount of liquid in your diet.
- Choosing lean sources of protein and plant-based proteins
- Diminishing the amount of fat and cholesterol in your diet to help control blood cholesterol levels.