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Nephrotic syndrome is a potentially serious type of kidney disease that affects the body's ability to absorb proteins and filter waste. It can be caused by a number of different factors, including inflammatory diseases, diabetes, and blood clots. Nephrotic syndrome treatment depends on the underlying cause, but most cases can be managed with anti-inflammatory drugs and diuretics to correct fluid retention. Patients can also benefit from diets that are low in salt and high in protein. Surgery is rarely considered for nephrotic syndrome treatment, but an operation to repair or replace blood vessels in the kidney may be needed if renal failure becomes likely.
A person who suffers from nephrotic syndrome may experience excess fluid retention, which can cause weight gain and swelling in the ankles, feet, hands, and face. Cholesterol and triglyceride levels usually rise as well, potentially leading to high blood pressure. In addition, the urine may appear foamy and thick due to protein loss. The primary goal of nephrotic syndrome treatment is to relieve these symptoms and reduce the risk of permanent scarring of kidney tissue.
Most doctors suggest that patients consume foods that are low in salt and cholesterol to help prevent the buildup of minerals and fluids. Diuretics such as spironolactone may be prescribed to flush the kidneys and relieve swelling, and corticosteroids are often used to ease inflammation. If a patient's blood pressure is high, he or she may need to take medications to normalize the heart rate, reduce cholesterol buildup, and aid in protein absorption.
Additional medications may be needed if a person is at risk of blood clots or infections. Anticoagulants such as heparin or warfarin work to thin the blood so it can pass more easily through inflamed or damaged vessels in the kidneys. A torn blood vessel that becomes infected is usually treated with oral or intravenous antibiotics. Frequent checkups are important during the course of treatment to make sure negative side effects do not occur.
Most patients respond very well to medical nephrotic syndrome treatment. More aggressive treatment measures, including surgery, are only needed if complications arise that threaten kidney or heart failure. A surgeon may need to place a stent in a damaged artery in the kidney to hold it open and promote better blood flow. Cholesterol buildup in the arteries leading to the heart may require stenting as well. If all other options for nephrotic syndrome treatment fail, a team of doctors can consider kidney transplantation.