Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, or FSGS, occurs when scarring impairs the kidney’s ability to filter blood. People with a family member who has FSGS face a higher risk of developing this disease, according to the University of North Carolina Kidney Center.
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The exact cause of FSGS has not been identified. Certain conditions, including obesity, congenital kidney defects, obstructive sleep apnea, viruses and sickle cell anemia, are associated with FSGS in some patients.
Common symptoms include edema, or swelling, especially in the legs, hypertension and high blood pressure, although in many cases, no clinical signs appear.
High creatinine levels in the blood and high protein levels in the urine indicate impaired kidney filtering function. A kidney biopsy can provide a definitive diagnosis of FSGS if scarring and damage are found.
Treatment involves managing underlying illnesses, taking medications to lower protein levels in the urine and monitoring kidney function on a regular basis. Steroids can also be used, although side effects can be severe.
High protein levels in the urine can lead to high cholesterol and increased blood clotting. Complete renal failure, which requires a kidney transplant or dialysis, can occur when FSGS is left untreated.