Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

What is Glomerulosclerosis?

Glomerulosclerosis is also known as glomerular sclerosis which means the hardening of the glomeruli in the kidney. It is basically scarring in the tiny vessels called glomeruli. Glomeruli perform the function of filtration and purification of blood. In glomerulosclerosis condition, glomeruli are defected that’s why it is unable to perform its function, as a result, large amounts of protein leak into the urine from the blood rather than remaining in the bloodstream. This cause a serious condition called proteinuria.

What Causes Glomerulosclerosis?

Glomerulosclerosis may develop in children and adult. Glomerulosclerosis may be caused by a serious kidney disease known as Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis or FSGS. The patients who are suffering from this disease have very high chances of getting infected with Glomerulosclerosis too. Diseases like Glomerulonephritis and Reflux nephropathy can also lead to Glomerulosclerosis.

Generally, Glomerulosclerosis is of two types on the basis of the cause of disease. These are:-

Primary Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis:

This kind of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis implies that the disease happened on its own where the real cause is unknown or not sure. If focal segmental glomerulosclerosis occurs without any cause, it is called idiopathic or primary focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.

Secondary Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis: This kind is caused by a different disease or a drug. The various examples include viruses of HIV or drugs such as anabolic steroids that are used by some people to grow their body muscle vastly (these are different than steroids that is given by the doctor while treating disease).

The other causes of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis are the following reason:

  • Obesity
  • Genetic causes (in rare cases)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Birth defects of the kidneys
  • Heroin or other drug use.

The main cause of Glomerulosclerosis is mainly FSGS; however, it may also occur due to the following reason:

Symptoms of Glomerulosclerosis

Early stages of Glomerulosclerosis do not show any symptom but later on, proteinuria appears as a symptom. Glomerulosclerosis is detected at the time of regular check-up. Test of Glomerulosclerosis tells about the amount of the protein in the blood. If there is a high content of protein in the urine then it may be proteinuria and low level of protein is hypoproteinemia. Severe proteinuria may indicate that end-stage renal disease (ESRD) will emerge.

With the passage of time, symptoms that appear are-

Swelling:

Loss of blood may cause the swelling in these body parts –

  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Legs
  • Abdomen
  • Around the eyes.

Weight Gain:

Glomerulosclerosis also causes rapid weight gain. A person who is infected with glomerulosclerosis gains weight due to building-up of the extra fluid in the body.

Changes in Urine Color and Density as a Symptom of Glomerulosclerosis:

The person who is infected with Glomerulosclerosis may have changed in urine color and density due to proteinuria. Urine may be the foamy or bubbly type in this condition.

High Cholesterol as a Symptom of Glomerulosclerosis:

The person may also have high cholesterol due to the deposition of fat.

High Blood Pressure in cases of Glomerulosclerosis:

High blood pressure may also be the symptom in some cases.

If the condition is severe, the symptoms may be like those of kidney failure. In some cases, people may report symptoms like:

How is Glomerulosclerosis Diagnosed?

Before discussing the diagnosis procedure, the age and the medical history of the person and his family needs to be known to the doctor. The other things which the doctor needs to know is how well you manage a treatment protocol and therapy and how long the symptoms are present.

Various tests to find out to diagnose glomerulosclerosis:

Urine Test to Diagnose Glomerulosclerosis:

By testing the urine, it is easy to find the protein content in the blood and also it is easy to calculate the amount of blood in the urine.

Blood Test for Diagnosing Glomerulosclerosis:

The blood test is very useful to diagnose a disease. In the same way, it is very useful to find the cholesterol level, protein and body waste in your blood. This is a very appropriate test to diagnose the status of the disease.

Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR):

By blood test, the doctor is able to find the performance of the kidney which is further used to calculate the Glomerular filtration rate and hence the diagnosis is done for glomerulosclerosis.

Kidney Biopsy for Glomerulosclerosis:

In this test, a small amount of tissue is removed from the kidney and then it is observed under the microscope. It may happen that one may have to go for biopsy a multiple times because this technique is helpful in looking for the scars and also the characteristic feature of this disease. Since scar may or may not be present all over the kidney, so a specialist has to conduct the biopsy many times. It is considered as the best test to diagnose glomerulosclerosis.

Genetic Testing for Glomerulosclerosis:

Glomerulosclerosis can also occur due to genetic factors which can’t be cured. Therefore, the doctor must perform genetic testing so that the person can be treated based on the cause.

Treatment for Glomerulosclerosis

Till date, no permanent cure for this disease could be finalized and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has not passed any drugs, particularly for its treatment. However, there are several methods or treatment to slow down the progression of glomerulosclerosis. These include:

Immuno-suppressant Medicines for Glomerulosclerosis:

These medicines are used to block the body's immune system by performing the hostile action on antibodies. It prevents the body from making the antibodies that attack the glomerulus.

Angiotensin-converting Enzyme Inhibitors and Angiotensin Receptor Blockers:

These are the drugs used for blood pressure regulation that help in reducing the blood protein and in the reduction of protein content in blood. It is suggested in the case of proteinuria.

Steroids for Treating Glomerulosclerosis:

Steroids such as prednisone or prednisolone are the drugs that are used as an anti-inflammatory or an immunosuppressant medication and many other immune system-suppressing drugs are greatly advised to use to reduce protein loss and recover kidney performance.

Statins to Treat Glomerulosclerosis:

Statins are the drugs that are used to lower the cholesterol level in the blood. There are many drugs available in the market like atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol, Lescol XL), which is very effective in lowering the cholesterol and helps in diagnosing many serious diseases.

Anticoagulants and Glomerulosclerosis:

Anticoagulants are those drugs that prevent the blood from clotting. These drugs are given to people at a high risk of getting clots which reduce the risks of growing serious conditions. Examples of such drugs are Heparin, Warfarin, Rivaroxaben etc. Diuretics, or water pills, are used to eliminate extra salt from the body. This prevents the swelling of body parts and hence is very useful for Glomerulosclerosis patient.

Diet and Exercise for Glomerulosclerosis:

There may be a need to change your daily diet routine. Use less salt (sodium) and protein in your food to reduce the load of these content in your blood and kidney too. Exercise is very essential to ensure the proper functioning of the bodily systems.

If another conditions such as obesity, infection, or an illness such as diabetes caused glomerulosclerosis, treatment of that condition will be a priority for therapy. Regular monitoring of the kidneys with blood and urine tests also comes under the treatment.

Conclusion

Glomerulosclerosis cause a very high risk of damage to the body such as swelling and it also causes serious problems that are related to heart and kidney. Ultimately, glomerulosclerosis may prompt the kidneys to fail, notwithstanding treatment. In such cases, patients will need to go for dialysis or a kidney transplant which is expensive and tedious. So, it is very necessary to visit the doctor as soon as one notices the symptoms. It is always better to go for prevention rather than cure.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: October 19, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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