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A to Z: Nephrotic Syndrome

May also be called: NS: Nephrosis

Nephrotic (neh-FROT-ik) syndrome is a condition in which a person loses large amounts of protein through the urine, which can lead to swelling of the face (often the eyes) or body (often around the genitals).

More to Know

Blood is filtered by tiny structures in the kidneys called glomeruli. A number of different conditions can cause the glomeruli to allow too much protein to come out of the blood and into the urine (pee). Protein helps hold fluids in the blood. With less protein, the fluids can move to other parts of the body and cause a type of swelling called edema, usually in the face, abdomen, arms, and legs. This can be accompanied by unintentional weight gain.

Nephrotic syndrome isn't a disease and doesn't cause pain, but it can be a sign of kidney problems that may require treatment.

For most younger kids, nephrotic syndrome is caused by a condition called minimal change disease. Other common causes in teens and adults include cancer, diabetes, and diseases and disorders of the kidney. Treatment for nephrotic syndrome involves treating the condition affecting the glomeruli.

Keep in Mind

Medication can effectively treat many causes of nephrotic syndrome, including minimal change disease. Most kids whose nephrotic syndrome is due to minimal change disease will eventually outgrow the condition during their teens.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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