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Nephrotic Syndrome: Causes and Treatment

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Sanjeev Behura 91% (15 ratings)
MBBS, MD - Medicine, DM - Nephrology
Nephrologist, Delhi  •  26 years experience
Nephrotic Syndrome: Causes and Treatment

Glomerulonephritis is a disease that is caused due to inflammation of the small filters that are present within the kidneys or glomeruli. Glomeruli eliminate the excess waste, electrolytes and fluids from the blood, discharged through urine. A glomerular disease can be either acute or chronic. If the condition arises without a combination of any other disease, it is termed as primary glomerulonephritis. Secondary glomerulonephritis is characterized by diabetes or lupus (an auto-immune disorder) being at the root of the disease. Prolonged or severe inflammation can take a toll on the kidneys.


Nephrotic syndrome can be primary, being a disease specific to the kidneys, or it can be secondary, being a renal manifestation of a systemic general illness. In all cases, injury to glomeruli is an essential feature. Kidney diseases that affect tubules and interstitium, such as interstitial nephritis, will not cause nephrotic syndrome.

Primary causes of nephrotic syndrome include the following, in approximate order of frequency:

  1. Minimal­-change nephropathy

  2. Focal glomerulosclerosis

  3. Membranous nephropathy

  4. Hereditary nephropathies

Secondary causes include the following, again in order of approximate frequency:

  1. Diabetes mellitus

  2. Lupus erythematosus

  3. Viral infections (e.g., hepatitis B, hepatitis C, human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] )

  4. Amyloidosis and paraproteinemias

  5. Preeclampsia

  6. Allo-antibodies from enzyme replacement therapy

Nephrotic-­range proteinuria may occur in other kidney diseases, such as IgA nephropathy. In that common glomerular disease, one-third of patients may have nephrotic-­range proteinuria.

Nephrotic syndrome may occur in persons with sickle cell disease and evolve to renal failure. From a therapeutic perspective, nephrotic syndrome may be classified as steroid sensitive, steroid resistant, steroid dependent, or frequently relapsing.


  1. Whether one is suffering from acute or chronic nephrotic glomerular , with symptoms moderate or severe, the treatment lies in treating high blood pressure and other underlying conditions of the disease.

  2. Water pills help control sweating, thus increasing the fluid flushed from the kidneys.

  3. Statins reduce cholesterol level.

  4. Blood thinners such as anticoagulants lower the risk of blood clots.

  5. Corticosteroids regulate the immune system and ease the inflammation that results from kidney disorders.

  6. Incorporating certain lifestyle changes such as opting for lean proteins, cutting on the intake of fat in the diet and consuming lesser amounts of salt can treat inflammation and swelling.

  7. For kidney failure, dialysis can come to the aid in eliminating excess fluids and regulating hypertension. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Nephrologist.

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