Learn About Nephrotic Syndrome

What is the definition of Nephrotic Syndrome?

Nephrotic syndrome is a group of symptoms that include protein in the urine, low blood protein levels in the blood, high cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels, increased blood clot risk, and swelling.

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What are the alternative names for Nephrotic Syndrome?


What are the causes of Nephrotic Syndrome?

Nephrotic syndrome is caused by different disorders that damage the kidneys. This damage leads to the release of too much protein in the urine.

The most common cause in children is minimal change disease. Membranous glomerulonephritis is the most common cause in adults. In both diseases, the glomeruli in the kidneys are damaged. Glomeruli are the structures that help filter wastes and fluids.

This condition can also occur from:

  • Cancer
  • Diseases such as diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple myeloma, and amyloidosis
  • Genetic disorders
  • Immune disorders
  • Infections (such as strep throat, hepatitis, or mononucleosis)
  • Use of certain drugs

It can occur with kidney disorders such as:

  • Focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Mesangiocapillary glomerulonephritis

Nephrotic syndrome can affect all age groups. In children, it is most common between ages 2 and 6. This disorder occurs slightly more often in males than females.

What are the symptoms of Nephrotic Syndrome?

Swelling (edema) is the most common symptom. It may occur:

  • In the face and around the eyes (facial swelling)
  • In the arms and legs, especially in the feet and ankles
  • In the belly area (swollen abdomen)

Other symptoms include:

  • Skin rash or sores
  • Foamy appearance of the urine
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight gain (unintentional) from fluid retention
  • Seizures
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What are the current treatments for Nephrotic Syndrome?

The goals of treatment are to relieve symptoms, prevent complications, and delay kidney damage. To control nephrotic syndrome, the disorder that is causing it must be treated. You may need treatment for life.

Treatments may include any of the following:

  • Keeping blood pressure at or below 130/80 mm Hg to delay kidney damage. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are the medicines most often used. ACE inhibitors and ARBs may also help decrease the amount of protein lost in the urine.
  • Corticosteroids and other drugs that suppress or quiet the immune system.
  • Treating high cholesterol to reduce the risk for heart and blood vessel problems -- A low-fat, low-cholesterol diet is usually not enough for people with nephrotic syndrome. Medicines to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides (usually statins) may be needed.
  • A low-sodium diet may help with swelling in the hands and legs. Water pills (diuretics) may also help with this problem.
  • Low-protein diets may be helpful. Your provider may suggest a moderate-protein diet (1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day).
  • Taking vitamin D supplements if nephrotic syndrome is long-term and is not responding to treatment.
  • Taking blood thinner drugs to treat or prevent blood clots.
Who are the top Nephrotic Syndrome Local Doctors?
Highly rated in

Duke Children's Hospital & Health Center

Durham, NC 

Rasheed Gbadegesin is a Nephrologist in Durham, North Carolina. Dr. Gbadegesin has been practicing medicine for over 35 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Nephrotic Syndrome. He is also highly rated in 12 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, Nephrotic Syndrome, Glomerulonephritis, and Minimal Change Disease. He is board certified in Nephrology and Pediatric Medicine and licensed to treat patients in Michigan and North Carolina. Dr. Gbadegesin is currently accepting new patients.

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Kobe University Graduate School Of Medicine

Kobe, JP 

Kazumoto Iijima is in Kobe, Japan. Iijima is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Nephrotic Syndrome. They are also highly rated in 100 other conditions, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Nephrotic Syndrome, Alport Syndrome, Congenital Nephrotic Syndrome, and Lowe Syndrome.

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Highly rated in
Pediatric Nephrology

Boston Children's Hospital - Division Of Nephrology

Boston, MA 

Friedhelm Hildebrandt is a Pediatric Nephrologist in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Hildebrandt is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Nephrotic Syndrome. He is also highly rated in 73 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Nephrotic Syndrome, Reflux Nephropathy, Chronic Kidney Disease, and Neurogenic Bladder. He is licensed to treat patients in Michigan. Dr. Hildebrandt is currently accepting new patients.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Nephrotic Syndrome?

Outcome varies. Some people recover from the condition. Others develop long-term kidney disease and need dialysis and eventually a kidney transplant.

What are the possible complications of Nephrotic Syndrome?

Health problems that may result from nephrotic syndrome include:

  • Acute kidney failure
  • Hardening of the arteries and related heart diseases
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Fluid overload, heart failure, fluid buildup in lungs
  • Infections, including pneumococcal pneumonia
  • Malnutrition
  • Renal vein thrombosis
When should I contact a medical professional for Nephrotic Syndrome?

Call your provider if:

  • You or your child develops symptoms of nephrotic syndrome, including swelling in face, belly, or arms and legs, or skin sores
  • You or your child are being treated for nephrotic syndrome, but symptoms don't improve
  • New symptoms develop, including cough, decreased urine output, discomfort with urination, fever, severe headache

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have seizures.

How do I prevent Nephrotic Syndrome?

Treating conditions that can cause nephrotic syndrome may help prevent the syndrome.

Kidney anatomy
What are the latest Nephrotic Syndrome Clinical Trials?
HSS (Hypertonic Saline Solution) Plus High Dose Furosemide vs High Dose Furosemide in Nephrotic Syndrome - a Randomized Trial
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Treatment of Drug-resistant Adult Primary Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis and Post -Transplant Recurrence Using the LIPOSORBER® LA-15 System
What are the Latest Advances for Nephrotic Syndrome?
Immunosuppressive treatment for primary membranous nephropathy in adults with nephrotic syndrome.
Kidney biopsy in very elderly patients: indications, therapeutic impact and complications.
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Pembrolizumab-induced focal segmental glomerulosclerosis: A case report.
What are our references for Nephrotic Syndrome?

Erkan E. Nephrotic syndrome. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 545.

Saha MK, Pendergraft WF, Jennette JC, Falk RJ. Primary glomerular disease. In: Yu ASL, Chertow GM, Luyckx VA, Marsden PA, Skorecki K, Taal MW, eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 31.