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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Nephrotic Syndrome: Meaning, Causes, Symptoms and Complications

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Nephrotic  syndrome is a severe kidney disorder that causes the kidney to excrete too much protein through the urine. This disorder occurs when there is a damage to those little clusters of small blood vessels that make up the glomeruli which are present in the kidneys.

The function of these tiny blood vessels are to filter and remove excess water and waste from your bloodstream.

Your body needs blood proteins especially albumin so as to maintain the appropriate fluid levels in the blood and so a normal healthy glomeruli will help to keep albumin in the blood by not absorbing or filtering them from the blood. It will prevent this blood protein from entering passing into the urine.

When the glomeruli becomes damaged, it will cause an express passage of protein directly into urine. Once this begins to occur and too much protein leave through your urine, this would cause nephrotic syndrome.

There are so many diseases that can cause the malfunctioning of the glomerulus and then lead to nephrotic syndrome. Such diseases include:

1. Diabetes kidney disease

Severe diabetes can cause diabetic neuropathy that will cause a damage to the glomerulus. This will then cause kidney failure.

2. Minimal change disease

This is the leading cause of glomerular disorder in children. When this disease happens, it almost always results in abnormal kidney function.

Most times however, when the affected tissue is viewed under the microscope, the cells always appear normal or close to normal therefore not showing where the defect is. It’s cause is not known because of the inability of the cells to disclose any irregularity.

3. Focal segmental glomeruloschlerosis

It is characterized by severe scarring which were not arranged segmentally. This scarring always appear scattered. Most times, this condition occurs as a result of an underlying disease or a genetic disorder. Sometimes, this condition may not have a source and it can just begin on its own.

4. Membranous Nephropathy

This particular kidney disorder is as a result of the thinking of the inner membranes that are found within the glomerulus.

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The reason why this thickening occurs is not known but then some other conditions such as hepatitis B, malaria, cancer and lupus usually have it as one of their characteristics.

5. Systemic Lupus erythematosus

Severe kidney disease can be triggered by this extremely and severly chronic inflammatory disease.

6. Amyloidosis

This severe disorder comes as a result of the excessive build up and deposit of amyloid proteins within the organs. This build-up of amyloid proteins can in turn cause a severe damage to the kidneys filtering pathway.

7. A vein blood clot in the kidney

When there are diseases as regarding a blood clot in the vein, there is a tendency that the clot may be present within a vein in the kidney. When a person has renal vein thrombosis, the blood clot may turn severe and therefore cause nephrotic syndrome.

If you have nephrotic syndrome, you would experience the following signs and symptoms:

  1. You would experience severe swelling or oedema around the body most especially around eyes, feet and ankles due to the damage of the kidneys
  2. You will also experience foam in your urine which is a clear indication of excess protein removal from your body.
  3. Sudden weight gain leading to obesity. This will occur as a result of fluid retention in the body because the kidneys which always help remove excess fluid from the body is having problems.
  4. Fatigue and severe tiredness
  5. Lack of appetite.

There are risk factors that are associated with this disease and can increase your chances of developing this syndrome if you aren’t exactly careful. They include:

1. If you have some underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, lupus, amyloidosis, and some kidney related diseases such as kidney stones, they you are at risk of developing nephrotic syndrome.

2. There are some medications that can cause nephrotic syndrome when taken in excess. Drugs such as non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs etc can cause an occurrence of these disorder.

3. Some infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and malaria can increase your risk of getting nephrotic syndrome.

Possible complications that may arise with nephrotic syndrome includes:

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1. Blood clots

Blood clots will arise from the inability of the glomerulus to properly and adequately filter blood properly. This will lead to the loss of blood proteins most especially albumin. Albumin helps to prevent blood clotting and so if albumin is reduced severly, one will begin to experience Vein thrombosis (I.e clotting within the veins)

2. High blood cholesterol and increased level of triglycerides in the blood

As soon as the albumin level in the drops, your body will respond by producing more albumin from the liver. The side effects of this is that as the liver produces more albumin to maintain homeostasis, it is also producing cholesterol and triglycerides and if it isn’t controlled, it will lead to high cholesterol and triglycerides levels in the blood.

3. Poor nutrition

Loosing too much protein in the blood can cause malnutrition and will cause weight loss which can be disguised as body swelling. It can cause anaemia due to the loss of blood cells and also lack of vitamin D and calcium.

4. High blood pressure

When there is a damage to the glomerular, erupts of the kidneys, it will prevent proper filtering of the blood leading to a build up of waste in the blood and therefore cause an increase in blood pressure.

5. Acute kidney failure

Once the kidney loses the ability to completely filter the blood due to excessive damage of the glomerulus, this will lead to a quick build up of waste in the blood.

Once this begins to occur, one would need an emergency dialysis. If the person doesn’t receive emergency dialysis, the build up of waste can lease to kidney failure.

6. Chronic Kidney diseases

Undiagnosed and untreated  nephrotic syndrome can cause the kidneys to begin to loose adequate function over a period of time. It can become so severe that one may need dialysis or complete kidney transplant.

7. Infections

Due to the build up of blood waste in the body caused by nephrotic syndrome, this can cause infections. If left untreated, these infections can become full blown and later cause sepsis which can eventually lead to death.

Once you have any of the symptoms or you fall under any of the risk factors, Endeavour to visit your doctor immediately for a proper and a thorough check-up.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Deborah Akinola
Wirter, poet and public speaker

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