Nephrotic syndrome is a set of symptoms and signs of kidney damage including:
Nephrotic syndrome is caused by damage to tiny filters in the kidneys, called glomeruli. The glomeruli filter waste and excess water from the blood. This forms urine, which reaches the bladder via the ureters. Diseases that damage the glomeruli cause nephrotic syndrome.
Diseases that may lead to nephrotic syndrome include:
Factors that may increase your chance of nephrotic syndrome include:
Nephrotic syndrome may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. High blood pressure may indicate kidney damage. A urine test will show if you have too much protein or any blood in your urine. A blood test will show if your blood contains too much cholesterol and not enough protein.
Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:
Imaging studies evaluate the kidney and surrounding structures. This can be done with:
If your doctor suspects nephrotic syndrome, you may be referred to a kidney specialist.
Treatment depends on what is causing the nephrotic syndrome. Some cases are treatable with medications, while others lead to kidney failure despite treatment. The underlying cause will be treated, if possible. Steps will be taken to:
Most conditions that lead to nephrotic syndrome cannot be prevented. However, the risk of type 2 diabetes may be reduced through exercise and weight control.
National Kidney Foundation
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Kidney Foundation of Canada
Nephrotic syndrome. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/nephrotic. Accessed June 1, 2016.
Nephrotic syndrome in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114446/Nephrotic-syndrome-in-adults. Updated March 21, 2016. Accessed June 1, 2016.
Nephrotic syndrome in adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/kidney-disease/nephrotic-syndrome-in-adults/Pages/facts.aspx. Updated February 2014. Accessed July 12, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.