Nephrotic syndrome (a kidney disease): Causes, symptoms, treatment, and diet

By: Mohan Garikiparithi | Bladder | Saturday, February 25, 2017 - 05:30 AM

Nephrotic SyndromeNephrotic syndrome is a kidney disorder that results from the release of too much protein in the urine. When damage is caused to the blood vessels within the kidneys, which filter waste and water, it can lead to nephritic syndrome. Nephrotic syndrome leads to swelling of the feet and ankles, along with other health conditions as well.

To treat nephritic syndrome, it’s important to treat the underlying health issue causing it. Because nephrotic syndrome can lead to other complications, it’s important to begin treatment right away.

Nephrotic syndrome causes and symptoms

Damage to the blood vessels, which filter water and waste, is the primary cause of nephrotic syndrome. When these vessels are healthy they keep the appropriate amount of protein in the body and expel the extra. When they are damaged too much protein leaves the body through the urine.

There are many causes of blood vessel damage, including:

  • Minimal change disease
  • Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis
  • Membranous nephropathy
  • Diabetic kidney disease
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Amyloidosis
  • Blood clot in the kidney vein
  • Heart failure

Symptoms of nephrotic syndrome include:

  • Swelling around the eyes, feet, and ankles
  • Foamy urine, which indicates protein
  • Weight gain due to fluid retention

Nephrotic syndrome risk factors and complications

The factors that increase your risk of developing nephrotic syndrome include kidney damage due to medical conditions like diabetes or lupus, use of medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and infections like HIV, hepatitis B and C, and malaria.

The complications that may arise due to nephrotic syndrome include blood clots, high cholesterol, poor nutrition, high blood pressure, acute kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, and an increased risk of infections.

Diagnosing nephrotic syndrome

There are three main ways to test and diagnose nephrotic syndrome: urine test, blood test, and kidney biopsy. A urine test will reveal abnormalities found in the urine – including protein. A blood test will reveal low levels of protein and high levels of cholesterol, and a kidney biopsy will take a small tissue sample from the kidney and test it.

Nephrotic syndrome treatment

Treatment for nephrotic syndrome involves treating the underlying condition; therefore, treatment may include:

  • Taking blood pressure medication
  • Water pills
  • Cholesterol-reducing medications
  • Blood thinners
  • Immune system-suppressing medications

Nephrotic syndrome diet

It’s important to change your diet if you have nephrotic syndrome because unhealthy foods can further damage the kidneys. For starters, choose leaner sources of protein or even plant-based protein; it isn’t as taxing on the kidney. You will also want to reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol in your diet to control cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease, which can worsen nephrotic syndrome. Lastly, reduce your salt intake to minimize swelling.

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