Pronounced: Neh-frah-tik sin-dromeEn Español (Spanish Version)
Nephrotic syndrome happens when the kidneys let protein leak into the urine. When this happens, there is not enough protein in the blood. Low protein in the blood allows fluid to leak out of the blood stream and into body tissues.
Nephrotic syndrome is a collection of the following signs:
- High protein in the urine
- Low protein in the blood
- Swelling of body tissues
- High cholesterol in the blood
Nephrotic syndrome is not a disease itself. It is a set of signs and symptoms that indicate that another disease has damaged the kidneys, and that they are no longer working properly.
This is a serious condition that requires care from your doctor. Contact your doctor if you think you may have nephrotic syndrome.
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.
Anatomy of the Kidney
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Diseases that may lead to nephrotic syndrome include:
- Glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the glomeruli from infection or other causes)
- Diabetic nephropathy (kidney complications from diabetes)
- Membranous nephropathy
- Renal amyloidosis (abnormal protein deposits in the kidneys)
- Minimal change disease—This usually occurs in children when nephrotic syndrome occurs, even if there is little or no change to the structure of glomeruli or surrounding tissue.
- Other diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus, certain infections, toxins, allergic reactions, sickle cell disease, renal vein thrombosis, and some types of cancer
Last reviewedOctober 2012by 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.