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What Is Nephrotic Syndrome

Nephrotic Syndrome is not an independent kidney problem, but a group of clinical manifestations which refer to severe proteinuria, swelling, hypoproteinemia and hyperlipidaemia. It causes kidney failure easily if not treated effectively and timely. In medicine, Nephrotic Syndrome not only attacks adults, but also attacks children. Therefore, a preventive measure is necessary for all the patients.

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Tests and Diagnosis of Nephrotic Syndrome

To diagnose Nephrotic Syndrome, the following tests are needed:

Urine Test: A urinalysis help to detect excess protein in urine and this is the basic to diagnose Nephrotic Syndrome. To have a urine test, patients are usually suggested to collect urine samples over 24 hours.

Blood Test: With Nephrotic Syndrome, patients usually show low level of protein albumin and high level of lipid in blood. With this test, we can know clearly whether patients are suffering from these problems.

Renal biopsy: Sometimes, renal biopsy is needed for Nephrotic Syndrome patients. Renal biopsy is a medical produce in which a small piece of kidney si removed from the body for examination. Through this test, we can know how far kidney disease has progressed and in what way patients’ kidneys are damaged.

Kidney Ultrasound: Kidney ultrasound is usually done to look at the kidneys. This test can help rule out other causes of patients’ symptoms.

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How Is Nephrotic Syndrome Caused?

Nephrotic Syndrome is characterized by massive protein in urine (more than 3.5g within 24 hours) which occurs when the permeability of glomerular filtration membrane is increased greatly.

In kidney, glomerular filtration membrane works as a filter and helps to separate nutritions and wastes products. When this membrane is damaged, nutrition like protein which should be kept in blood will leak and into urine, causing abnormal value in test report.

Nephrotic Syndrome can be primary or secondary. In medicine, many disease and conditions can cause glomerular damage and lead to Nephrotic Syndrome, including Minimal Change Disease, FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis), Membranous Nephropathy, Diabetic Nephropathy and Amyloidosis and SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) and so on.

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Symptoms of Nephrotic Syndrome

Many people with Nephrotic Syndrome do not have any noticeable physical symptoms. When symptoms are present, they can include:

Foamy urine/bubbly urine

Foamy urine or bubbly urine is very common among Nephrotic Syndrome patients. These bubbles are small and exist for a long time. In medicine, foamy urine always denotes excess protein in urine.


Swelling is a visible symptom and it occurs when excess fluid build up in the body. For Nephrotic Syndrome patients they experience swelling due to decreased plasma osmotic pressure resulted from great loss of protein in urine. Swelling may appear in different body parts like eyelid, feet, ankles, hands and face and so on.

Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath will be caused when fluid retention spread to lung which is clinically called pulmonary edema.

When Nephrotic Syndrome deteriorates to kidney failure stage, patients will experience much more symptoms or discomforts like dry skin, poor appetite, tiredness, nausea and so on.

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How Is Nephrotic Syndrome Treated?

Specific treatment of Nephrotic Syndrome depends on the disease’s cause. Therefore, finding out the root cause is very essential for Nephrotic Syndrome patients to choose the right treatment and receive satisfactory treatment effects.

Here we will mainly introduce several treatments that are commonly used by Nephrotic Syndrome patients:

1. Steroid medicines or immunosuppressive agents

Steroid medicines or immunosuppressive agents like prednisone, cellcept and cyclophosphamide all can be used if you are steroid-responsive Nephrotic Syndrome patients. These medicines are effective in relieving symptoms and they work fast. However, one thing we must realize is that long-term usage of these medicines will cause undesirable effects like bleeding gums, bladder pain, confusion, convulsions, chest pain, blurred vision, dizziness, dry mouth, drowsiness and so on.

2. Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is not an independent medicine, but a combination of Chinese medicine and western medicine. As we mentioned above, some western medicines show obvious and quick effects in remitting symptoms, but unfortunately, we can not rely on these drugs, as long-term taking of them will bring us unnecessary health problems. For this reason, Immunotherapy is created. In Immunotherapy, western medicines are used temporarily to control symptoms, so as to slow down the illness condition. After that, when illness condition gets stable, Chinese medicines are used to adjust immune system, increase immunity and repair injured kidney intrinsic cells. This treatment is divided into six steps and each of them focuses on different medical purpose. So far, Immunotherapy has been used to treat Nephrotic Syndrome patients from different countries and it turns out this method indeed shows great treatment effects.

3. Dialysis and kidney transplant

Dialysis and kidney transplant will be the last two options when kidneys are completely failed due to Nephrotic Syndrome.

Dialysis is a direct way to purify blood. It works fast but the treatment effect is temporary. Therefore, for Nephrotic Syndrome patients, they usually need to do dialysis regularly once they start dialysis.

Kidney transplant is a medical procedure in which a healthy kidney is put into patient’s body to replace the failed kidney to work. In medicine, kidney transplant is regarded as the last option for kidney failure patients.

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Beneficial Diet For Nephrotic Syndrome

Suggested diet for Nephrotic Syndrome include:

Proper protein intake: In normal condition, 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is needed, but for Nephrotic Syndrome patients, they need to make changes about their protein intake, as improper protein intake will affect their illness condition directly. Their doctors or dietitian can analyze their lab tests to estimate how much protein they require.

Fluid intake: Buildup of excess fluid in the body causes swelling or edema, so Nephrotic Syndrome patients need to limit their fluid intake, so as to avoid aggravating their fluid retention. (How much fluid is needed depends on exact illness condition. You can send your test report to us to get free suggestions)

Salt intake: For Nephrotic Syndrome patients, they need to stay away from processed foods and pickled foods as these foods are the highest in sodium.

Fat and cholesterol intake: High level of lipid in blood is a common problem for Nephrotic Syndrome. To get this problem worsened, Nephrotic Syndrome patients usually need to avoid saturated fats and trans fats. They should focus on eating foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids like flaxseed, canola oil, soy nuts, wheat germ, walnuts, salmon, tuna, sardines and so on.

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