What is nephrotic syndrome?
Nephrotic syndrome is
a sign that your
kidneys are not working right. You have nephrotic
syndrome if you have high levels of protein in your urine, low levels of
protein in the blood, and high cholesterol.
Nephrotic syndrome is
not a disease. It is 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?
There are tiny
blood vessels in the
kidneys that filter waste and extra water from the
blood. When these filters are damaged, you get nephrotic syndrome. Protein
helps move water from the tissues into the blood. Healthy kidneys keep the
right amount of protein in the blood. Damaged kidneys let protein slip from the
blood into the urine. Without enough protein in the blood, fluid builds up in
the tissues. This can cause swelling.
Many things can cause this
blood vessel damage, including
lupus, infection, certain cancers, and some medicines.
Sometimes doctors don't know what causes it.
A type of kidney
disease called minimal change disease (also called nil disease) causes most of
the cases of nephrotic syndrome in children. Doctors don't know what causes
minimal change disease.
What are the symptoms?
The most common early
symptom of nephrotic syndrome, in both children and adults, is swelling in the
tissues around the eyes or in the feet or ankles. They may also have swelling
in the lungs that can make it hard to breathe.
But many people who
have nephrotic syndrome don't have symptoms.
How is nephrotic syndrome diagnosed?
diagnose nephrotic syndrome using blood and urine tests.
have other tests to see what is causing nephrotic syndrome. You may also
have a kidney
biopsy, in which the doctor takes a sample of tissue for testing.
How is it treated?
Treatment focuses on reversing,
slowing, or preventing further kidney damage. The treatment you need depends on
whether you are an adult or a child and what health problem caused nephrotic
syndrome. You may take medicine. And your doctor may suggest a diet that is low
in salt and protein.
With treatment, young children usually get
better and have no lasting problems. Often treatment is not as successful in
older children and adults. If the kidney damage is not stopped, it can lead to
chronic kidney disease.
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