Nephrotic syndrome occurs when the kidneys are not working properly. Healthy kidneys filter out excess water, salts, and other things from the blood in our body. Large amounts of protein and minerals are lost through urine when kidneys have damaged filters. The body is left without enough protein to soak up water. As a result, the water moves from the blood supply into body tissues. This causes swelling in the tissues where the water pools.
The most common areas of swelling are in the face around the eyes and in the ankles and feet. Fluid can also collect in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.
Complications of nephrotic syndrome can include:
- Infection, such as Reference peritonitis Opens New Window, Reference cellulitis Opens New Window, and Reference sepsis.
- Blood clots in veins (Reference deep vein thrombosis Opens New Window) or in the lungs (Reference pulmonary embolus Opens New Window).
- Blood clots in the arteries (acute arterial thrombosis). A blood clot in an artery (arterial embolus) can block blood flow to your arm or leg.
- Increased Reference cholesterol Opens New Window or Reference triglyceride Opens New Window levels in the blood (hyperlipidemia).
- Poor kidney function leading to Reference chronic kidney disease Opens New Window. For more information, see the topic Reference Chronic Kidney Disease.
- Growth delays in children, which can result in shorter height as an adult.
Acute nephrotic syndrome can develop quickly over a few days to a few weeks, causing edema (swelling) and possibly kidney failure.
If another severe medical condition (such as Reference diabetes Opens New Window or Reference high blood pressure Opens New Window) is causing nephrotic syndrome, you may have complications from the other condition also.
Most children who have nephrotic syndrome do well with treatment and have a normal life expectancy.
Complete recovery is possible. Doctors define complete recovery as living without symptoms or treatment for more than 2 years.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference May 7, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Tushar J. Vachharajani, MD, FASN, FACP - Nephrology