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Nephrotic Syndrome Treatment in India

Nephrotic syndrome is a disorder of the glomeruli (clusters of microscopic blood vessels in the kidneys that have small pores through which blood is filtered) in which excessive amounts of protein are excreted in the urine. This typically leads to accumulation of fluid in the body (edema) and low levels of the protein albumin and high levels of fats in the blood.
  • Drugs and disorders that damage the kidneys may cause nephrotic syndrome.
  • People feel tired and have tissue swelling and sometimes muscle wasting.
  • Diagnosis is based on blood and urine tests and sometimes imaging of the kidneys, a biopsy of the kidneys, or both.
  • People who have disorders that may cause nephrotic syndrome are given angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) to prevent kidney damage.
  • ACE inhibitors and ARBs are used to treat this disorder.

Nephrotic syndrome can develop gradually or suddenly. Nephrotic syndrome can occur at any age. In children, it is most common between the ages of 18 months and 4 years, and more boys than girls are affected. In older people, both sexes are equally affected.

Protein excretion into the urine (proteinuria) is accompanied by low levels of important proteins, such as albumin, in the blood, increased levels of fats (lipids) in the blood, a tendency for increased blood clotting, and a greater susceptibility to infection. The decreased level of albumin in the blood leads to edema and to the retention of excess sodium.


Nephrotic syndrome can be primary, affecting only the kidneys, or secondary, caused by a vast array of disorders that affect other parts of the body, most commonly diabetes mellitus, systemic lupus erythematosus, and certain viral infections. Nephrotic syndrome can also result from glomerulonephritis. A number of drugs that are toxic to the kidneys can also cause nephrotic syndrome, especially nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The syndrome may be caused by certain allergies, including allergies to insect bites and to poison ivy or poison oak. Some types of nephrotic syndrome are hereditary.

Secondary Causes of Nephrotic Syndrome

  • Diseases
    1. Amyloidosis
    2. Cancer (lymphoma, leukemia, various solid tumors)
    3. Diabetes mellitus*
    4. Pre-eclampsia (also called toxemia of pregnancy)
    5. Some glomerulonephritis (including rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis)
    6. Systemic lupus erythematosus*
    7. Vasculitic disorders (Henoch-Schvnlein purpura, Wegener's granulomatosis, microscopic polyangiitis)
    8. Viral infections (hepatitis B,* hepatitis C,* HIV*)

  • Drugs
    1. Gold
    2. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)*
    3. Penicillamine
    4. Heroin taken intravenously

  • Allergies
    1. Insect bites
    2. Pollens
    3. Poison ivy and poison oak
* Asterisks indicate the most common causes.

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Symptoms in India

Early symptoms include loss of appetite, a general feeling of illness (malaise), puffy eyelids and tissue swelling from excess sodium and water retention, abdominal pain, wasting of muscles (atrophy), and frothy urine. The abdomen may be swollen because of a large accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites). Shortness of breath may develop because fluid accumulates in the space surrounding the lungs (pleural effusion). Other symptoms may include swelling of the knees and, in men, the scrotum. Most often, the fluid that causes tissue swelling is affected by gravity and therefore moves around. During the night, fluid accumulates in the upper parts of the body, such as the eyelids. During the day, when the person is sitting or standing, fluid accumulates in the lower parts of the body, such as the ankles. Swelling may hide the muscle wasting that is progressing at the same time.

In children, blood pressure is generally low, and blood pressure may fall when the child stands up (orthostatic hypotension). Shock occasionally develops. Adults may have low, normal, or high blood pressure. Urine production may decrease, and kidney failure may develop if the leakage of fluid from blood vessels into tissues depletes the liquid component of blood and the blood supply to the kidney is diminished. Occasionally, kidney failure with low urine output occurs suddenly.

Nutritional deficiencies may result because nutrients are excreted in the urine. In children, growth may be stunted. Calcium may be lost from bones. The hair and nails may become brittle, and some hair may fall out. Horizontal white lines may develop in fingernail beds for unknown reasons.

The membrane that lines the abdominal cavity and abdominal organs (peritoneum) may become inflamed and infected. Opportunistic infections-infections caused by normally harmless bacteria-are common. The higher likelihood of infection is thought to occur because the antibodies that normally combat infections are excreted in the urine or not produced in normal amounts. The tendency for blood clotting (thrombosis) increases, particularly inside the main vein from the kidney. Less commonly, the blood may not clot when clotting is needed, generally leading to excessive bleeding. High blood pressure accompanied by complications affecting the heart and brain is most likely to occur in people who have diabetes or systemic lupus erythematosus.

Diagnosis in India

A doctor bases the diagnosis of nephrotic syndrome on the symptoms, physical examination findings, and laboratory findings. Sometimes nephrotic syndrome is at first mistaken for heart failure in older adults because swelling occurs in both disorders and heart failure is common in older people. A laboratory test of urine collected over a 24-hour period is useful for measuring the degree of protein loss, but collection of urine over such a long period is difficult for many people to accomplish. Alternatively, to estimate protein loss, a randomly collected urine specimen can be tested to measure the ratio of the level of protein to that of creatinine (a waste product). Blood tests and other urine tests detect additional characteristics of the syndrome. The level of albumin in the blood is low because this vital protein is excreted in the urine and its production is impaired. The urine often contains clumps of cells that may be combined with protein and fat (casts). The urine contains low levels of sodium and high levels of potassium.

Concentrations of lipid in the blood are high, sometimes exceeding 10 times that of a normal concentration. Levels of lipid in the urine are also high. Anemia may be present. Levels of blood clotting proteins may be increased or decreased.

The doctor investigates possible causes of nephrotic syndrome, including drugs. Analysis of the urine and blood may reveal an underlying disorder. An imaging test of the kidney, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), is usually done. If the person has lost weight or is older, a search for cancer is undertaken. A kidney biopsy is especially useful in determining the cause and extent of kidney damage.

Prognosis in India

The prognosis varies depending on the cause of the nephrotic syndrome, the person's age, and the type and degree of kidney damage. Symptoms may disappear completely if the nephrotic syndrome is caused by a treatable disorder, such as an infection, cancer, or drugs. This situation occurs in about half the cases in children but less often in adults. If the underlying disorder responds to corticosteroids, sometimes progression of the disease is halted, and less often the condition partially or, rarely, completely reverses. When the syndrome is caused by HIV infection, it usually progresses relentlessly, often resulting in complete kidney failure in 3 or 4 months. Children born with the nephrotic syndrome rarely live beyond their first birthday, although a few have survived by means of dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant.

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