Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Nephrotic Syndrome

Nephrotic Syndrome

Illustration of the anatomy of the kidney
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What is nephrotic syndrome?

Nephrotic syndrome is a condition often characterized by the following:

What causes nephrotic syndrome?

Generally, nephrotic syndrome results from damage to the kidneys' glomerulithe tiny blood vessels that filter waste and excess water from the blood and send them to the bladder as urine. Glomeruli keep protein in the body. When they are damaged, protein leaks into the urine. Healthy kidneys allow less than 1 gram of protein to spill into the urine in a day. In nephrotic syndrome, the glomeruli allow 3 grams or more of protein to leak into the urine during a 24-hour period. Nephrotic syndrome may occur with many diseases, including the kidney diseases caused by type 2 diabetes. What causes nephrotic syndrome is not always known.

What are the symptoms of nephrotic syndrome?

Nephrotic syndrome is actually a set of symptoms and not a disease in and of itself. The following are the most common symptoms of nephrotic syndrome. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of nephrotic syndrome may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

How is nephrotic syndrome diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for nephrotic syndrome may include the following:

What is the treatment for nephrotic syndrome?

Specific treatment for nephrotic syndrome will be determined by your physician based on:

Treatment generally focuses on identifying the underlying cause, if possible, and reducing the following (often through diet, medications, or both):

ACE inhibitors (one type of blood pressure medication) may be used in persons with diabetes to protect the kidneys. Consult your physician to determine if an underlying cause for your condition can be identified. Only after this determination is made can an appropriate treatment protocol be established. A special diet can help some people delay the need for dialysis.

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Online Resources of Kidney and Urinary Disorders


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