Nephrotic Syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome is set of findings that show there is a problem with the kidneys. These findings include:

  • High levels of protein in urine (proteinuria).  

  • High blood pressure (hypertension).  

  • Low levels of the protein albumin in the blood (hypoalbuminemia).  

  • High levels of cholesterol (hyperlipidemia) and triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia) in the blood

  • Swelling of face, abdomen, arms and legs (edema).

Nephrotic syndrome occurs when the kidneys' filters (glomeruli) are damaged. Glomeruli remove toxins and waste products from the bloodstream. As a result of damaged glomeruli, essential products such as proteins may also be removed from the bloodstream. The loss of proteins and other substances the body needs causes nephrotic syndrome. Nephrotic syndrome may increase your risk of further kidney damage and of health problems such as blood clots and infection.

CAUSES

  • A kidney disease that damages the glomeruli, such as:

  • Minimal change disease.  

  • Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.  

  • Membranous nephropathy.  

  • Glomerulonephritis.  

  • A condition or disease that affects other parts of the body (systemic), such as:

  • Diabetes.

  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus. 

  • Amyloidosis.

  • Multiple myeloma.

  • Some types of cancers.

  • An infection, such as hepatitis C.

  • Medicines such as:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

  • Some anticancer drugs.

In some cases, the cause of nephrotic syndrome is not known.

SYMPTOMS

You may not have noticeable symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Edema.

  • Foamy urine.

  • Unexplained weight gain.

  • Loss of appetite.  

DIAGNOSIS

Nephrotic syndrome is usually diagnosed with dipstick urine test or a 24-hour urine collection. If your test shows that you have nephrotic syndrome, additional tests may be needed to determine its cause. These may include blood, urine, imaging, or kidney biopsy tests.

TREATMENT

You may receive medicines to treat symptoms or to prevent complications from occurring. These medicines may:

  • Decrease inflammation in the kidneys.

  • Lower blood pressure.

  • Lower cholesterol.

  • Reduce the blood's ability to clot.

  • Help control edema.

Further treatment will depend on the cause of your nephrotic syndrome. Your caregiver will discuss treatment options with you.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Follow your prescribed diet.

  • Only take medicines as directed by your caregiver.

  • Do not take any medicines (including prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, or nutritional supplements) unless approved by your caregiver. Many medicines can make nephrotic syndrome worse or need to have the dose adjusted.

  • Keep all follow-up appointments as directed by your caregiver.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

Your symptoms do not go away as expected or you develop new symptoms.