Nephrotic syndrome is
a sign that your
kidneys aren't working right. As a result, you have:
High levels of protein in your urine.
Low levels of
protein in your blood.
High levels of cholesterol in your blood.
Nephrotic syndrome isn't a disease. It's a warning that something is damaging your kidneys. Without
treatment, that problem could cause kidney failure. So it's important to get
treatment right away.
Nephrotic syndrome can occur at any age. But
it is most common in children between the ages of 18 months and 8 years.
What causes nephrotic syndrome?
The kidneys have tiny
blood vessels called glomeruli that filter waste and extra water from the
blood. Healthy kidneys keep the
right amount of protein in the blood. Protein
helps move water from the tissues into the blood. When the tiny filters are damaged, too much protein slips from the
blood into the urine. As a result, fluid builds up in
the tissues and causes swelling.
Nephrotic syndrome is often caused by:
A type of kidney
disease called minimal change disease (or nil disease). This is the main cause of nephrotic syndrome in children. Doctors don't know what causes
minimal change disease.
Diabetes. This is the most common cause of nephrotic
syndrome in adults.
Many other things can cause the
blood vessel damage that leads to nephrotic syndrome, including:
Kidney diseases that attack the glomeruli, such as membranous glomerulopathy and focal segmental
Other immune-suppressing medicines, such as cyclosporine and cyclophosphamide.
Nephrotic syndrome can lead to other problems that may need treatment, including high blood pressure, blood clots, and high cholesterol or triglycerides. You might need medicines to treat these problems, such as:
Blood pressure medicines to lower blood pressure and help protect the kidneys.
Young children who get treatment usually get
better and have no lasting problems. Often treatment is not as successful in
older children and adults. If your
symptoms are severe or they come back, you may need treatment for
months to years, or even for the rest of your life.
The American Kidney Fund is a national voluntary health
organization dedicated to improving the daily lives of people who have chronic
kidney disease. Its goal as a patient aid program is to relieve the financial
burden associated with chronic kidney failure. Also, the organization's
information service provides information about how to prevent and treat kidney
disease and about the great need for organ donors.
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information
3 Information Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3580
The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information
Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) provides information about diseases of the
kidneys and urologic system to people with these problems and to
their families, to health professionals, and to the public. NKUDIC answers
inquiries; develops, reviews, and distributes publications; and works closely
with professional and patient groups and government agencies to
coordinate resources about kidney and urologic diseases.
NKUDIC, a federal agency, is a service of the National
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). NIDDK is part
of the National Institutes of Health under the U.S. Department of Health and
National Kidney Foundation
30 East 33rd Street
New York, NY 10016
The National Kidney Foundation works to prevent kidney
and urinary tract diseases and help people affected by these conditions. Its
website has a lot of information about adult and child conditions. The site
has interactive tools, donor information, recipes for kidney disease patients,
and message boards for many kidney topics. Free materials, such as brochures
and newsletters, are available.
Kodner C (2009). Nephrotic syndrome in adults: Diagnosis and management. American Family Physician, 80(10): 1129–1134.
Lewis JB, Neilson EG (2008). Glomerular diseases. In AS Fauci et al., eds., Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1782–1797. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Praga M et al (2011). Primary glomerular diseases In ET Bope et al., eds., Conn's Current Therapy 2011, pp. 714–719. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Vincenti FG, Amend WJC (2008). Nephrotic syndrome section of Diagnosis of medical renal diseases. In EA Tanagho, JW McAninch, eds., Smith's General Urology, 17th ed., pp. 524–526. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Watnik S, et al. (2010). Nephrotic syndrome section of Kidney disease. In SJ McPhee, MA Papadakis, eds., Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment 2010, 49th ed., pp. 838–840. New York: McGraw-Hill.
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