Nephrotic Syndrome: Symptoms and Causes | Tampa General

Nephrotic Syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome can cause severe swelling when the kidneys filter too much protein from the blood. 

Nephrotic syndrome occurs when the blood-filtering function of the kidneys is impaired. Normally, clusters of tiny blood vessels (glomeruli) in the kidneys clean the blood by removing excess fluids and toxins, which are eliminated from the body in the form of urine. When functioning properly, the glomeruli do not remove blood proteins, which perform many vital functions, such as maintaining an optimal balance of fluids in circulation. When damaged, however, the glomeruli may allow a high volume of proteins to seep out of the blood and into the body’s soft tissues, resulting in nephrotic syndrome.

Causes of Nephrotic Syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome is not a type of kidney disease; instead, it is a symptom of glomeruli damage that allows proteins to leak from the blood. Some medical conditions that can cause the type of glomeruli damage that leads to nephrotic syndrome include:

  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Lupus
  • Diabetes
  • Amyloidosis
  • Reflux nephropathy

Signs of Nephrotic Syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome may cause:

  • Severe swelling (edema) in the ankles or feet, particularly after extended standing
  • Swelling around the eyes, especially in the morning
  • Weight gain due to fluid retention
  • Foamy or bubbly urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained fatigue

Diagnosis of Nephrotic Syndrome

If nephrotic syndrome is suspected, a physician will typically order one or more diagnostic tests, such as:

  • A urinalysis to check for proteins in the urine
  • Bloodwork to assess kidney function
  • A kidney biopsy

Treatments for Nephrotic Syndrome

The goals of nephrotic syndrome treatment are to resolve or control the underlying medical condition that is causing it, slow the progression of kidney damage and prevent end-stage renal failure.

Tampa General Hospital is proud to be widely regarded as one of the best hospitals in the nation for nephrology. Our outstanding team treats a high volume of patients with kidney disease, and we offer a full spectrum of the latest diagnostic and treatment options. With extensive expertise and state-of-the-art facilities, we help each patient achieve the best possible outcome and quality of life.