Discusses nephrotic syndrome, a sign kidneys aren't working right. Includes high levels of protein in urine, low levels of protein in blood, and high cholesterol. Discusses swelling (edema) and kidney failure. Covers causes like diabetes. Covers treatment.
What is nephrotic syndrome?
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.
You may also have 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.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.