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Nephrotic Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Nephrotic Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Approximately two in every 10,000 individuals suffer from Nephrotic syndrome. In this HealthHearty article, we evaluate the causes, symptoms, and treatment for this kidney disorder.
Abhijit Naik
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Nephrotic Syndrome is a disorder, wherein protein leaks from the blood into the urine, as a result of some damage induced to the kidneys. This spill eventually leads to depletion of protein levels in the body, increase the levels of lipid, and causes edema (swelling of body parts due to excessive accumulation of watery fluid). Although, it can occur at any age, children between the age group of 18 months to 4 years are at a higher risk.
Nephrotic Syndrome
Causes
The condition is caused due to the damage to the tiny blood vessels present in the kidney, which are designed to filter waste and excess water from the blood. This condition may arise due to various factors, including diseases affecting other parts of the body, such as diabetes. A person suffering from glomerulonephritis can also experience this condition. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are harmful for the kidneys, can also lead to this disorder. At times, it is caused due to allergic reactions stimulated by some insect bites. Nephrotic syndrome can also be a hereditary disorder, however, the chances of this are very small.
Symptoms
The symptoms of this disorder vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms include ...
  • Edema: Bloating or swelling of the body due to accumulation of water in excessive amounts. It is experienced by 95% of the patients suffering from this disorder. The swelling may be noticed in the face, feet, hands, abdomen, etc.
  • Hematuria: A condition wherein the patient may lose blood while passing urine.
  • Oliguria: The quantity of urine the person passes decreases substantially when he is suffering from this syndrome.
  • Pleural effusion: The person experiences difficulty in breathing, due to the accumulation of water in the space surrounding the lungs.
  • High blood pressure: An individual suffering from this disorder experiences high blood pressure regardless of his age.
  • Besides these symptoms, the patient appears pale and experiences anorexia or loss of appetite, and fatigue.
Diagnosis
An individual who shows the symptoms of Nephrotic disorder, is subjected to a blood test and urine test to measure the amount of protein, cholesterol, and sugar in the blood. More sophisticated tests like ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI are performed for accurate detection of the disorder. A biopsy of the kidney can also be helpful in determining the extent of damage suffered by the organ.
Treatment
Treatment can be initiated after the exact cause of the disorder is determined. The treatment predominantly revolves around the use of medication and a proper diet, which helps slow down or reverse the damage caused to the kidney. Corticosteroids like prednisolone, are prescribed to reduce the swelling caused due to the disorder. If corticosteroids don't help, cyclosporine or cyclophosphamide are prescribed. Diuretics like bumetanide are given to reduce sodium, potassium, and water retention in the body, and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to keep a check on the amount of protein lost while passing urine.
Some precautions need to be taken when medication for the treatment for Nephrotic syndrome are administered. Diuretics, for instance, are used to reduce water retention. In excess though, they can cause further damage to the kidney. Therefore, they should be taken only after consulting a doctor, or else their intake can worsen the situation.
If the treatment is not initiated as soon as the symptoms are noticed, then it can lead to major complications, such as chronic kidney diseases. To avoid such complications, one has to consult a doctor as soon as any of the aforementioned symptoms surface.