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Nephrotic syndrome facts for kids

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Swelling of face in a child with nephrotic syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome is the medical term used to describe a collection of signs and symptoms. They occur because of kidney damage. This is different from nephritic syndrome where there are red blood cells in urine, giving it a red colour appearance.

Nephrotic syndrome is diagnosed by doctors based on the classical symptoms of oedema, proteinuria, hypoalbuminemia and hyperlipidaemia (which is explained below).

Symptoms and signs

  • Oedema - swelling of the body
  • Proteinuria - lipids passing in urine
  • Hypoalbuminemia - low albumin level in blood
  • Hyperlipidaemia - high lipid level in blood
  • Lipiduria - lipids passing in urine
  • Hyponatremia - low sodium in blood
  • Frothy urine


Causes can be divided into two as primary and secondary causes.

Primary causes are conditions developing within the kidney.

  • Minimal change disease (MCD)
  • Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS)

Secondary causes affect other body parts in addition to kidneys.


Treatment is with drugs that will reduce the damage to the kidneys. Prednisone, Cyclophosphamide, levamisole are some drugs used to treat nephrotic syndrome.

In addition to that lack of albumin is treated by giving albumin from outside into a vein. Fluid retention is treated with drugs called "diuretics" which will remove excessive water collected in the body. The person is advised to consume salt, fat containing foods and fluids including water in low amounts.


Prognosis is the medical term for the likely outcome of a disease. Good prognosis means the person will have a good outcome with no organ damage and no long lasting effects due to the disease.

Nephrotic syndrome in children usually has a good prognosis. However in children less than 5 years old and in adults over 30 years the prognosis is usually not good and can lead to permanent kidney damage. In these groups the disease will reappear after some time and need continuous drug treatment to keep the disease under control.

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