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Nephrotic Syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome is a condition marked by very high levels of protein in the urine; low levels of protein in the blood; swelling, especially around the eyes, feet, and hands; and high cholesterol. Nephrotic syndrome results from damage to the kidneys' glomeruli (the singular form is glomerulus). Glomeruli are tiny blood vessels that filter waste and excess water from the blood and send them to the bladder as urine.

Nephrotic syndrome can occur with many diseases, including the kidney diseases caused by diabetes mellitus, but some causes are unknown. Prevention of nephrotic syndrome relies on controlling these diseases.

Recommended Related to

Kidney Dialysis

Your kidneys help filter waste, excess fluid, and toxins from your blood. They are also important for blood cell production and bone health. If kidneys don't work properly, harmful substances build up in the body, blood pressure can rise, and too much fluid can collect in the body's tissues, which leads to swelling, called edema. If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to take over their job.

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Treatment of nephrotic syndrome focuses on identifying the underlying cause if possible and reducing high cholesterol, blood pressure, and protein in urine through diet, medications, or both. One group of blood pressure medications called ACE inhibitors also protects the kidneys in diabetic patients.

Nephrotic syndrome may go away once the underlying cause, if known, has been treated. However, most of the time a kidney disease is the underlying cause, and these diseases cannot be cured. In these cases, the kidneys may gradually lose their ability to filter wastes and excess water from the blood. If kidney failure occurs, the patient will need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

For More Information

American Kidney Fund
6110 Executive Boulevard
Rockville, MD 20852
(800) 638-8299

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Information Center
P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20824-0105
(301) 251-1222

National Kidney Foundation
30 East 33rd Street
New York, NY 10016
(800) 622-9010

Additional Information on Nephrotic Syndrome

The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse collects resource information on kidney and urologic diseases for the Combined Health Information Database (CHID). CHID is a database produced by health-related agencies of the Federal Government. This database provides titles, abstracts, and availability information for health information and health education resources.

To provide you with the most up-to-date resources, information specialists at the clearinghouse created an automatic search of CHID. Or, if you wish to perform your own search of the database, you may access the CHID Online web site ( and search CHID yourself.

WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health

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