Nephrotic Syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome occurs when the filters (glomeruli) in the kidney become damaged. This can happen as a result of a number of kidney diseases, such as infection, glomerulonephritis, and kidney cancer. Some of the diseases that cause nephrotic syndrome, such as nephritis, affect only the kidney. Other diseases, such as diabetes, affect other parts of the body as well.

Because the filters are not working properly, protein leaks into the urine. Protein normally helps to keep fluid in your bloodstream. Without protein, some of this fluid leaks out of the blood into your tissues, causing swelling.

Nephrotic syndrome can occur at any stage in life, including during childhood.

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Nephrotic Syndrome symptoms

  • Swelling in the legs when you have been standing for a long time.
  • Swelling under your eyes when you first wake up in the morning.
  • Swelling around the abdomen, the chest and the face.
  • Foamy urine, due to the excess protein.
  • High blood pressure.

If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible for a full diagnosis.

Nephrotic Syndrome diagnosis

Your doctor can detect the protein in your urine by testing a urine sample. A blood test can also detect fat in your blood, which is another sign of nephrotic syndrome.

Nephrotic Syndrome treatment

Treatment goals are to reduce symptoms, prevent complications and delay long-term kidney damage.

Some of the underlying causes are treatable with medicine. Other causes have no cure, and inevitably lead to kidney failure. This is why it is very important for your doctor to find out the underlying cause of your condition.

To manage the symptoms of the nephrotic syndrome itself, you will be given diuretic pills that increase the amount of urine you pass and so decrease swelling.

In children, treatment with high doses of steroids will stop the protein leakage from the kidneys in 90% of cases. This is not as effective in adults.

Need more information?

Speak to your GP or a consultant if you notice any symptoms or want to discuss nephrotic syndrome treatment options.

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