Being diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome can feel overwhelming, but understanding the basics can help you manage it better. Here’s a simple guide to what nephrotic syndrome is, its symptoms, causes, and how it can be treated.

What is Nephrotic Syndrome?

Think of your kidneys as tiny filters that clean your blood, removing waste and extra water to form urine. Nephrotic syndrome happens when these filters, called nephrons, get damaged and let too much protein leak into your urine. This causes several symptoms that affect your health.


  • Swelling (Edema): Noticeable swelling around the eyes, feet, ankles, and abdomen due to fluid retention.
  • Foamy Urine: Excess protein in urine makes it appear foamy.
  • Fatigue and Weakness: Low levels of albumin (a type of protein) in your blood can make you feel tired and weak.
  • Weight Gain: Rapid weight gain from fluid retention.
  • High Cholesterol: Increased levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood, raising the risk of heart disease.


Understanding Nephrotic Syndrome: A Guide to Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment 3


Understanding what causes nephrotic syndrome can help in managing it effectively. Here are some common causes:

  • Minimal Change Disease: Common in children, often linked to an abnormal immune response.
  • Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS): Scarring of the kidney’s filtering units.
  • Membranous Nephropathy: Thickening of the kidney filters, leading to protein leakage.
  • Diabetic Nephropathy: Kidney damage from long-term high blood sugar in diabetes.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): An autoimmune disease that can attack the kidneys

Treatment and Management

While nephrotic syndrome can be challenging, there are various ways to manage and treat it:

  • Medications: Drugs like ACE inhibitors or ARBs can help control blood pressure and reduce protein in the urine.
  • Diuretics: These “water pills” help reduce swelling by increasing urine output.
  • Dietary Changes: A low-sodium diet can help manage fluid retention and blood pressure. Sometimes, reducing protein intake is recommended to ease the kidneys’ workload.
  • Immunosuppressive Therapy: If caused by autoimmune diseases like lupus, drugs to suppress the immune system may be used.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Regular exercise, not smoking, and limiting alcohol can improve overall kidney health.
  • Monitoring and Regular Check-ups: Regular visits to your healthcare provider to monitor kidney function and other health markers are essential.

Kidney Urine Tests and End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

Urine tests are crucial for diagnosing and monitoring nephrotic syndrome. These tests check protein levels and other substances in the urine, helping assess kidney function.

In severe cases, nephrotic syndrome can lead to end-stage renal disease (ESRD), where the kidneys lose most of their function. Treatments for ESRD include dialysis or kidney transplantation.

Kidney urine tests play a vital role in diagnosing and monitoring nephrotic syndrome. These tests measure the levels of protein and other substances in the urine, helping healthcare providers assess kidney function and the severity of the condition.

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How Southwest Kidney Institute (SKI) Can Help

At SKI, we provide comprehensive care and support for managing nephrotic syndrome:

  • Expert Diagnosis: Our experienced nephrologists ensure accurate diagnoses and personalized treatment plans.
  • Tailored Treatment Plans: We work closely with you to create customized treatment plans, including medications, diet, and lifestyle changes.
  • Comprehensive Care: Beyond medical treatment, we offer nutritional counseling, educational resources, and emotional support.
  • Advanced Therapies: We stay updated with the latest treatments and technologies in nephrology.
  • Dedicated Support Team: Our compassionate healthcare professionals are here to support you at every step.
  • Collaborative Approach: We coordinate with your other healthcare providers to ensure holistic care.
  • Ongoing Monitoring and Follow-up: Regular monitoring of your kidney function and health to adjust treatment plans as needed.
  • Patient Education: We empower you with knowledge about your condition, treatment options, and self-care strategies.

Our mission at SKI is to provide compassionate, patient-centered care, helping individuals with nephrotic syndrome live their best lives. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can support you on your journey to better kidney health.