What is it?
Nephrotic syndrome is a kidney disorder characterised by high levels of protein in the urine and swelling of body tissue. People of any age can be affected by nephrotic syndrome, although children aged between 18 months and four years are at increased risk. Long-term nephrotic syndrome can lead to irreparable kidney damage which can lead to kidney failure, necessitating treatment with dialysis or kidney transplant.
What are the symptoms?
Signs and symptoms include:
- Foamy urine.
- Fatigue and weakness.
- Swelling, especially around the eyes, hands, feet, and abdomen.
- Loss of appetite.
- Increased weight from fluid retention.
- High protein levels in the urine and low protein levels in the blood.
As the condition progresses there may be:
- Susceptibility to infections due to an impaired immune system.
- An increased risk of blood clots (thrombosis).
- Muscle wasting (due to the loss of protein).
- Weakening of the bones.
- Abnormally low or abnormally high blood pressure.
- High blood cholesterol levels.
- Kidney failure.
What to expect?
If you are diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, you can consider discussing the following subjects with your doctor:
- Was there a specific cause found?
- Do you need investigations to evaluate your condition further? If so, what preparations do you need for these tests?
- Some patients with nephrotic syndrome may have other medical conditions such as diabetes that compounds to cause the condition. Do you need a stricter control of these other medical conditions?
- Some patients with nephrotic syndrome are prescribed medication they will need to use lifelong. Is this the case for you as well?
- A healthy diet, quitting smoking and an active lifestyle can help improve overall health and well-being. Which changes can you make in your lifestyle?
- Often patients with nephrotic syndrome will need regular check-ups. How often do you need to follow-up?
After your initial treatment with your doctor, you can also try the following:
- Restrict your fluid intake.
- Adequate bed rest to reduce the swelling.
- Monitor your blood pressure at regular intervals.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid excess intake of salt, protein and potassium in your diet.