What is nephrotic syndrome?

Nephrotic syndrome is a disorder that indicates damaged kidneys. It refers to a group of symptoms, including protein in the urine, low blood protein, and high cholesterol.

Nephrotic syndrome can occur in anyone. The syndrome arises for many reasons, including a condition known as minimal change disease in children and glomerulonephritis (kidney inflammation) in adults. Nephrotic syndrome can also be caused by infection, medication side effects, heredity, cancer, and autoimmune disorders, such as diabetes and lupus.

Other symptoms and signs of nephrotic syndrome are foamy urine, unexplained weight gain, loss of appetite, high blood pressure, and edema (swelling), especially in the face, feet and abdomen. Treatment for nephrotic syndrome is aimed at controlling these symptoms.

Nephrotic syndrome may be treated with blood pressure medications, such as angiotensin receptor blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. Immunosuppressant drugs and drugs to treat high cholesterol may also be used, depending upon the cause. Proper medical treatment may help prevent further damage to the kidneys.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms of nephrotic syndrome, such as convulsions or difficulty breathing.

Seek prompt medical care for persistent or bothersome symptoms of nephrotic syndrome, including fever, headache, painful urination, or changes in amount and frequency of urination.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of nephrotic syndrome?

Symptoms of nephrotic syndrome are related to improper functioning of the kidneys, leading to improper handling of body waste. Nephrotic syndrome is often progressive (gets worse with time), so early stages of the syndrome may be symptomless. In late stages, nephrotic syndrome may progress to kidney failure.

Common symptoms of nephrotic syndrome

You may experience nephr... Read more about nephrotic syndromesymptoms

CAUSES

What causes nephrotic syndrome?

Nephrotic syndrome is caused by damage to the kidneys, generally as the result of another disorder. The part of the kidney that becomes damaged is called the glomerulus, or the filtering unit of the kidney. When glomeruli are damaged, they cannot handle waste in the bloodstream properly, so they fail to block the passage of protein into the urine. The body then retains excess water, leading to ... Read more about nephrotic syndromecauses

TREATMENTS

How is nephrotic syndrome treated?

In some cases, nephrotic syndrome may be symptomless or mild and not require treatment. If symptoms appear, however, it is important to treat them because further damage to the kidneys can occur over time. The most important symptom to treat is high blood pressure. Controlling autoimmune symptoms and lowering blood choles... Read more about nephrotic syndrometreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Kidneys and the Urinary System


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