Nephrotic syndrome in Adults
Nephrotic syndrome is a condition in which your kidneys “leak” protein from your blood into your urine. In adults, nephrotic syndrome is often a sign of kidney damage from an underlying problem.
What is nephrotic syndrome?
Healthy kidneys filter waste and extra fluid from your blood. Your body gets rid of the waste and extra fluid as urine. In nephrotic syndrome, some protein, which normally stays in your blood, gets removed along with the waste. This is a problem, because your body needs protein.
Protein acts like a sponge in your blood. It holds fluid that your body needs inside your arteries and veins. If there is not enough protein, the fluid can leak into other tissues in your body. This can cause edema (swelling). This usually happens around your eyes, face, belly, ankles and feet.
What causes nephrotic syndrome?
In adults, nephrotic syndrome often happens when the kidneys are damaged by diabetes or high blood pressure. The best way to reduce your risk of getting nephrotic syndrome is to prevent diabetes or high blood pressure. If you already have diabetes or high blood pressure, manage your condition to lower your risk for nephrotic syndrome. A healthy diet, exercise and some medicines may help.
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What are the symptoms?
If you have nephrotic syndrome, you may notice swelling around your eyes, face, ankles or feet.
How will I know if I have nephrotic syndrome?
Your doctor can do a couple of tests to find out if you have nephrotic syndrome.
First, your doctor will test a sample of your urine to check for protein. If the test shows that you have protein in your urine, your doctor may want to test your urine again.
Your doctor may also want to test your blood. Low protein and high cholesterol in your blood may also be a sign of nephrotic syndrome.
If a diagnosis is still unclear, your doctor may ask that you have a kidney biopsy. This means that a tiny piece of your kidney will be removed and viewed under a microscope. This test can usually be done with a needle and does not require surgery. A kidney biopsy may also help your doctor find underlying problems.
Is there a cure for nephrotic syndrome?
There is no cure for nephrotic syndrome. Instead, your doctor will focus on treating your symptoms and controlling how much protein you lose.
What are the treatments for nephrotic syndrome?
Your doctor may prescribe a diuretic (“water pill”) and suggest a low-sodium (low-salt) diet to treat swelling. Your doctor might also suggest a healthy diet, exercise and some medicines to help limit any further damage to your kidneys.
Any underlying problems that your doctor finds from a blood test or biopsy should also be treated.
Images courtesy of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, www.niddk.nih.gov.