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Glomerulosclerosis

Symptoms of Glomerulosclerosis

At first, there are no obvious signs of glomerulosclerosis. Over time, symptoms can develop. These include:

Swelling. Because of fluid retention, you may have swelling in various parts of the body, including:

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

The swelling may be painful. It may also cause rapid weight gain.

Changes in urine. You may have foamy or bubbly urine, caused by proteinuria.

Often, glomerulosclerosis is discovered during a routine checkup. Tests during a checkup can reveal an abnormally high protein content in the urine (proteinuria). Or they may show a low level of protein in the blood (hypoproteinemia).

Symptoms that often accompany glomerulosclerosis include:

In glomerulosclerosis patients, high blood pressure can be difficult to control.

Diagnosis of Glomerulosclerosis

The only way you can be certain of an accurate diagnosis of glomerulosclerosis is to get a kidney biopsy. That's because the symptoms of glomerulosclerosis can also occur in many other conditions.

In a kidney biopsy, your doctor removes a very small amount of kidney tissue. The tissue is examined for signs of scarring.

Diagnosing glomerulosclerosis may require multiple biopsies. That's because the scarring does not occur throughout the kidney. So your doctor may have to look at samples from several different parts of the kidney until an affected area is found.

Other tests that may be ordered include:

  • Glomerular filtration rate (measures kidney function)
  • Kidney ultrasound
  • Genetic testing

Treatment of Glomerulosclerosis

There is no cure for glomerulosclerosis. And the FDA has not approved any drugs specifically for its treatment.

But several treatments can slow its progression and control symptoms. These include:

  • Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). These are blood pressure drugs that help control protein loss.
  • Steroids such as prednisone or prednisolone and other immune system-suppressing drugs to reduce protein loss and improve kidney function
  • Statins to control cholesterol
  • Anticoagulants to prevent blood clots
  • Diuretics, or water pills, to remove excess salt from the body; this reduces swelling.
  • Low-salt diet, exercise, and vitamins

If glomerulosclerosis was caused by another condition, such as obesity, infection, or an illness such as diabetes, treatment of that condition will be a priority of therapy. Treatment will also include regular monitoring of the kidneys with blood and urine tests.

Eventually, glomerulosclerosis may cause the kidneys to fail, despite treatment. In such cases, patients will need to undergo dialysis or a kidney transplant.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on October 30, 2014
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