Nephrotic syndrome is a kidney disorder that causes your body to excrete too much protein in your urine.
Nephrotic syndrome is usually caused by damage to the clusters of small blood vessels in your kidneys that filter waste and excess water from your blood. When healthy, these vessels keep blood protein from seeping into your urine and out of your body. When damaged, they don't perform this function effectively, and protein can leak out of your blood and lead to swelling all over your body (edema).
Treatment for nephrotic syndrome includes treating the underlying condition that's causing it and taking medications. Nephrotic syndrome can increase your risk of infections and blood clots. Your doctor may recommend steps to prevent these and other complications of nephrotic syndrome.
Signs and symptoms of nephrotic syndrome include:
When to see a doctor
Nephrotic syndrome is usually caused by damage to the clusters of tiny blood vessels (glomeruli) of your kidneys.
The glomeruli filter your blood as it passes through your kidneys, separating things your body needs from those it doesn't. Healthy glomeruli keep blood protein (mainly albumin) — which is needed to maintain the right amount of fluid in your body — from seeping into your urine. When damaged, glomeruli allow too much blood protein to leave your body, leading to nephrotic syndrome.
Many possible causes
Kidney cross section
All your blood flows through your kidneys, which are the key organs in the complex system that removes excess fluid and waste material from the blood. Blood that flows into your kidneys is diffused ...
Factors that can increase your risk of nephrotic syndrome include:
Possible complications of nephrotic syndrome include:
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by first seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. If your doctor suspects you may have a kidney problem, such as nephrotic syndrome, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in the kidneys (nephrologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For nephrotic syndrome, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions at any time that you don't understand something.
Tests and diagnosis
Tests and procedures used to diagnose nephrotic syndrome include:
During a kidney biopsy, a needle is used to remove a small sample of kidney tissue for laboratory testing. The biopsy needle is inserted through your skin and is often directed using the guidance of ...
Treatments and drugs
Treatment for nephrotic syndrome involves treating the underlying medical condition that's causing your nephrotic syndrome.
Your doctor may also recommend medications that may help control your signs and symptoms or treat complications of nephrotic syndrome. Medications may include:
Lifestyle and home remedies
Changes to your diet may help you cope with nephrotic syndrome. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian to discuss how what you eat can help you cope with the complications of nephrotic syndrome. A dietitian may recommend that you:
Last Updated: 2009-11-25
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