Nephrotic Syndrome

Kidneys receive approximately 1 liter of blood every minute. Of this, about 100 ml gets filtered in the kidney. This contains, small molecules and few large molecules. This is due to the intricate cellular structure that prevents proteins from getting filtered into the urinary space. A derangement of this filter results in passage of heavy amounts of proteins in urine. This condition is called heavy proteinuria or Nephrotic syndrome or Nephrosis.

Definition:

In the urine, the protein excretion is > 3.5 gm/day or in children, it is >50mg/kg of body weight. In most cases, the serum albumin is <3gm/dl (normal>4), and passage of lipids in the urine. The lipids in the blood increase and swelling of face and feet also occur.

Causes of Nephrotic Syndrome:

In children, most cases are due to Minimal Change Disease, FSGS, MPGN etc. In adults, most cases are due to primary illness while upto 30% may be due to secondary illness.

Clinical Features:

Apart from edema, there is a tendency towards clotting of the blood in blood vessels. If this involves a critical area, like heart, brain or kidneys complications may occur. Infections also are common. In addition, kidney function may be reduced due to either the disease or its treatment. Sometime the blood pressure may be elevated.

In some cases, continuation of excess proteins in the urine may lead to glomerular damage and Chronic kidney disease leading to renal failure.

Diagnosis:

After confirmation of excess protein in the urine, a kidney biopsy is required in most cases. In children between 2 to 8 years, a biopsy may be deferred if there is a good response to steroids as Minimal Change disease is presumed.

Treatment:

The treatment consists of steroids in primary cases and in case of poor response other immunosuppressants and ACE-Inhibitors. Disease often has remissions and relapses which need to be monitored and treated appropriately.

Urinary Tract Infections : Women

UTI in short, is a common illness in woman, especially during the reproductive period. The incidence in western countries is .5/woman /year.

It is commoner in women compared to men due to their shorter urethra (Tube from the lower end of the bladder to opening for urine). Bacteria from large intestines contaminate the skin around the anus, migrate to the vaginal opening and may ascend through the urethra to the bladder and sometimes via ureter to the kidneys.

Infections of the bladder are called cystitis, infections of urethra  urethritis and that of kidneys pyelonephritis.

Symptoms of UTI

In cases of urethritis, pain while passing urine (dysuria), more frequency, pus discharge from urine opening may occur.

In cases of cystitis, dysuria, frequency, urgency (inability to hold urine), lower abdominal pain or discomfort and sometimes blood in urine may occur.

In pyelonephritis the symptoms usually are : fever (temp above 38° C ), flank pain or discomfort, tenderness on touching at the angle of lower ribs with muscles( costovertebral angle) in addition to dysuria frequency etc. Nauusea and vomitings are also common. This can be a serious illness with fall of BP, shock and malfunction of other organs in the body.

Risk Factors In Women

Risk factors for UTI in a woman are previous UTI’s, abnormal anatomy, stones or other obstructions, sexual intercourse and use of spermicidal jellies. Women in some countries may not complain due to social taboos.

Diagnosis is based on history and finding of pus cells and bacteria in midstream urine. It can be confirmed by urine culture. Collection of proper midstream sample after proper cleaning and drying of genital areas is important to avoid false results.

Treament consists of short course of antibiotics in uncomplicated cases. Complicated cases may require hospitalisation and injectable antibiotics. Antibiotic selection depends on the usual causative agents in the area. Treatment of repeated UTI is different. In urethritis the organisms are often different and require other chemotherapeutic agents.

MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT KIDNEY DISEASE

Myth : All kidney diseases are serious and incurable

Fact : Most kidney diseases are treatable. Some are self-limiting and occur only once in a lifetime. Some progress towards renal failure but this progression can be slowed down if the disease is detected early. Even in late cases, treatment may help in reversing or slowing down the loss of kidney function.

Myth : only one kidney is affected by kidney diseases.

Fact : All medical diseases (high BP, diabetes, glomerulonephritis, nephrotic syndrome, poisonings, infections of urinary tract etc) affect both kidneys.

Some structural diseases like tumours, stones, abscesses, renal artery or vein clots, ureteral narrowings, may affect only one kidney.

Myth : I am passing enough urine. Hence my kidneys are not obstructed.

Facts : Most obstructions of the bladder and partial obstructions of the ureter  (stones or accidental ligation during surgery) cause more urine to be formed and passed. Only bilateral total obstruction or obstruction below bladder neck cause reduced urine output.

Myth : I am passing enough urine. Hence my kidneys are healthy and I do not require treatment or dialysis.

Fact : Some kidney disease cause decreased urine output or oliguria (< 400 ml urine/day). Most, however, are nonoliguric or Polyuric (urine output > 3000 ml/day). Even with normal or large urine production, waste material like acids, potassium, urea, creatinine and many more may not be excreted. A person then may require treatment at times dialysis as well.

Myth : Drinking more water will keep my kidneys healthy. This is the treatment for kidney diseases.

Fact : Usual water intake is well managed by thirst in healthy people. Drinking 2-3 litres of fluid may avoid some stone formations and urinary tract infections. Continuing to drink fluids when kidneys are failing or have failed may cause fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) or poor control of hypertension. The consequences may be deadly. Follow your doctors’ advice.

Myth : Dialysis once started is required life long.

Fact : In temporary or reversible renal failure, dialysis is required till kidney recovers. In CKD or ESRD with no reversibility, dialysis is required for emergency treatment of high potassium or fluid in the lungs. Maintainance dialysis for uremic symptoms, neuropathy, encephalopathy, pericarditis etc usually means either lifelong dialysis or renal transplant.