How Dangerous Is Nephrotic Syndrome & Is It Contagious?

Nephrotic syndrome is a collection of a group of symptoms consisting of proteinuria (loss of protein > 3.5 g/day), microalbuminuria, dyslipidemia, lipiduria, and edema. [1] It occurs due to severe kidney involvement in various systemic diseases like diabetes, HIV, amyloidosis, lupus erythematosus or it may occur primarily to the kidneys like focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, membranous nephropathy, minimal change disease and sometimes membranoproliferative nephropathy also. It may also present in chronic kidney disease like chronic renal failure. Sometimes, very rarely it can also occur congenitally due to the absence of few important proteins of the glomerulus like nephrin, responsible for the filtration of the waste products in the kidneys and stoppage of the albumin and other proteins in it.

How Dangerous Is Nephrotic Syndrome?

Nephrotic syndrome can vary from one extreme to another extreme that is range from very trivial and self-resolving disease to a dangerous and life-threatening condition depending upon the cause and severity of the disease secondary to which nephrotic syndrome has occurred.

The most common cause of nephrotic syndrome is minimal change disease which occurs almost exclusively in children and is a self-limiting disease. Nephrotic range of proteinuria occurs very commonly in it and gets resolved within a few days of its onset even without any medication.

On the other hand, nephrotic syndrome caused due to membranous nephropathy which is is idiopathic in nature (cause is unknown) occurring commonly in other extreme age group that is elderly group of people has worst prognosis that is it is the most dangerous type of nephrotic syndrome and carries a great risk to life and do not get limited even with a very good treatment.

Nephrotic syndrome occurring in adults is commonly due to focal segmental glomerulosclerosis which is secondary to systemic diseases like diabetes mellitus, HIV, amyloidosis, etc. It is a dangerous condition carrying poor prognosis with a low survival rate but can be controlled for a few years with the available medications.

It occurs due to the inability of kidneys to filter properly which results in the loss of lots of protein in the urine. It is termed as albuminuria because of more specifically loss of albumin protein in it. As the protein is lost, it makes the body to compensate for it by retaining fluid and salt. (1)

Is Nephrotic Syndrome Contagious?

The answer to this question is no. There is nothing to be feared of this disease on the account of infectivity and contagiousness. This is because it is not caused by any infecting agent like viruses, bacteria, etc. rather it is a disorder of non-infective origin where its causes can be inflammatory response caused by complement activation antibodies formation against specific kidney antigens. It may also occur due to circulatory causes like persistent hypertension due to diabetes, atherosclerosis, HIV and other causes leading to contraction of small blood vessels of kidneys lying in the glomerulus and can undergo focal sclerosis leading to failure of the kidney to filter out the protein present in the blood. Although it is very rare of the nephrotic syndrome to present after an infective cause it may occur rarely after post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis with the antibodies present against streptococcus cross-reacting with kidney antigens but still it is absolutely noninfective because it occurs after the subsidization of the infection and is an inflammatory phenomenon. (1)

Conclusion

Nephrotic syndrome is a dangerous condition and it is to be taken seriously even after however trivial it may seem. The severity of the disease depends upon the age group, the etiology, immune system of the body, etc.

On the front of contagiousness, it is nothing to be feared because it is absolutely non-contagious in nature. There is no need for any precautions to the people surrounding the patient.

With early detection and treatment, the disease can be limited to minimum effects on the body and life expectancy and quality can be improved with timely intervention by the help of drugs and surgery if required.

References

  1. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/nephrotic-syndrome-adults

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