There are many complications that our kidneys may experience. This part of our body is responsible for filtering waste products from the blood. They are responsible also for blood pressure regulation, balance of electrolyte, and the regular production of red blood cells in our body. As you can see, it has many vital functions that if it is not functioning properly, it can cause serious problems to our body. One of the many disorders our kidney may experience is nephrotic syndrome. This condition may require you to undergo immediate dialysis.
What is Nephrotic Syndrome?
Nephrotic syndrome is when your kidneys release too much protein into your urine. Usually, there is damage to the clusters of small blood vessels in your kidneys. These blood vessels are the ones that filter the waste and excess water from your blood. In Nephrotic Syndrome, there is swelling or edema in the feet and ankles. And as a beautifully designed mechanism, the kidney malfunctioning will somehow affect other parts of the body.
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It should be noted the Nephrotic Syndrome isn’t actually a disease. The disease that damage the blood vessels in your kidneys are responsible for the complication that you may experience.
What are its symptoms?
There are several symptoms that you may notice when you have nephrotic syndrome such as swelling in the feet and ankle and also in the eyes, fatigue, and appetite loss. Further, there is a noticeable increase in weight because of the fluid buildup in your body. Lastly, a high cholesterol and triglyceride level.
You may also notice that your urine is foamy. This is caused by the excess protein in the urine. While protein level may be high in the urine, the level of it in the blood is low. As you can see, protein is very important in our body. It is used in various ways such as building bones, muscles, tissues, and also fighting infections. When kidneys are functioning well, albumin is released to the filters of our body into our urine. Albumin helps remove excess fluid in our body. However, our body doesn’t produce enough albumin which causes fluid build up. This results to weight gain and the edema.
What causes nephrotic syndrome?
Nephrotic syndrome usually starts because of the damage to the clusters of tiny blood vessels called glomeruli in the kidneys. These blood vessels are responsible for filtering contents in the blood that the body needs and don’t need. When they are healthy, they keep the blood protein from oozing into your urine. However, when damaged, it could result to too much protein leaving your body.
What diseases and conditions can cause nephrotic syndrome?
Glomerular damage and nephrotic syndrome can be a result of the following diseases and conditions:
- Diabetic kidney disease: This kind of disease can lead to kidney damage that affects the glomeruli
- Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis: This condition is characterised by scattered scarring of the glomeruli. It can be as a result of another disease, genetically inherited, or may occur for some unknown reason.
- Minimal change disease:This is very hard to determine because even under a microscope, the kidney tissue appear to be normal but they do not function properly.
- Renal vein thrombosis: This disorder is defined as a blood clot that blocks veins that drains the blood out of the kidney.
What are its complications?
Complications of nephrotic syndrome include the following:
- Blood clots: The glomeruli is unable to filter our blood properly, which would result to loss of blood protein. This blood protein prevents clotting. It can increase your risk of developing thrombus in the veins.
- Poor nutrition: Loss of too much blood protein may result with malnutrition. It can result to weight loss and low levels of red blood cells, vitamin D, and calcium.
- High blood pressure: The damage in the glomeruli and waste build up may result to an increase of blood pressure.
- Acute kidney failure: The inability to filter blood may buildup waste in our blood. With so, emergency dialysis would be required.
- Chronic kidney disease: Nephrotic syndrome causes your kidneys to gradually lose proper functioning over time. You may also need to undergo dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Chan Wai Chuen is the Founder of RenalTeam – a trusted dialysis centre providing quality haemodialysis in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.