Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs can help you quickly learn about what is most important to you about your kidneys and proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome.

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Understanding Proteinuria in Nephrotic Syndrome

What is proteinuria?

In simple terms, proteinuria is when there is too much protein in your urine. Now, it’s normal to have some protein in your urine. But an excessive amount of it for too long a time can be a warning sign.

It's important to know that you can develop temporary proteinuria. This happens when the level of protein in your urine rises for a short time.

But high levels of chronic proteinuria may also be a sign of a more serious condition. If you have proteinuria, it’s important to work with your doctor. He or she can assess your condition. Together, you and your doctor can create a plan that may help lower your chronic proteinuria.

What are the symptoms of proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome?
Signs and symptoms associated with proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome include:
  • Foamy-looking urine
  • Swelling (edema)—especially in the face or ankles
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Too much protein in the urine
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low levels of protein in the blood
What is nephrotic syndrome?
Nephrotic comes from the Greek word “nephros,” which means “kidney.” And the word syndrome refers to a group of symptoms that together may be caused by a specific disease. The most common symptoms that are associated with nephrotic syndrome are:
  • Excessive amounts of protein in your urine, also known as proteinuria
  • Low levels of protein in your blood
  • High cholesterol
  • Swelling (edema) caused by a buildup of fluids in the body or skin
What conditions are associated with proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome?

Healthy kidneys perform many vital functions. One important function is to remove harmful toxins from your blood. These toxins are removed by the glomeruli. Glomeruli are tiny filter screens in your kidneys. When the toxins are removed, they are passed out of your body in the urine. At the same time, the kidneys help your body absorb proteins and other crucial substances needed for life.

But if a problem arises, the filters in the kidneys may not work the way they should. When this happens, the amount of protein passed out of your body in urine may increase to high levels. In some cases, this can be a sign of one of the following diseases:
  • Membranous Nephropathy (MN): The glomeruli become thick and inflamed
  • Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS): Scar tissue forms on the glomeruli
  • Minimal Change Disease (MCD): The glomeruli are damaged, but the damage can only be seen through an electron microscope
  • Membranoproliferative Glomerulonephritis (MPGN): Inflammation and abnormal changes occur in the kidney cells
  • Lupus Nephritis (LN): Lupus can cause kidney inflammation
  • IgA Nephropathy (IgA): Glomeruli become inflamed and impaired. This is caused by the abnormal buildup of an antibody (IgA) in the kidney

Diagnosing Proteinuria in Nephrotic Syndrome

How is proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome diagnosed?
Proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome is diagnosed with various lab tests that require blood and urine samples. Your doctor may also recommend a kidney biopsy for further examination. For more information about many of these tests, download our Lab Results Tracker now.
What types of doctors treat nephrotic syndrome?
Most likely, the first doctor you’ll see is your own family doctor. But depending on your test results and/or symptoms, he or she may then refer you to a nephrologist. A nephrologist is a doctor who specializes in kidney diseases.

Treating Proteinuriain Nephrotic Syndrome

Can proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome be cured?
Sometimes proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome may go away on its own. No one really knows why this happens. In many people, however, this is not the case. Even so, it’s important to know that there are ways to help manage it. For example, treatments are available that may help keep it under control. Also, adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle may help to improve it.
What treatments are available for proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome?
If you have proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome, your doctor may prescribe more than one type of treatment for you. For example, one part of your treatment plan may work to reduce your proteinuria. Meanwhile, another part of your plan may treat the condition that caused your nephrotic syndrome in the first place. And lastly, other treatments may be given to help manage other medical conditions related to nephrotic syndrome. Only your doctor can work with you to come up with a treatment plan that may be right for you. Learn more
Do treatments for proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome cause side effects?
As with most medicines, treatments for proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome come with risks and benefits. Ask your doctor about which treatment option(s) may be right for you. Learn more

Living With Proteinuria in Nephrotic Syndrome

Can a change in diet help manage proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome?
Along with medical treatments, a healthy diet and lifestyle may also help you manage your condition. This includes a diet that’s low in salt, protein, and saturated fats and cholesterol. Regular exercise and not smoking may help as well. Learn more
Can exercise help manage proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome?
Staying active may help someone with kidney problems manage their condition. Exercise may also help lower a person’s weight. It’s important to always talk with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. Learn more
How can proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome be managed?
Treatments are available to help reduce the amount of protein in your urine. Diet and lifestyle changes may also help manage it. Learn more

Caring for a Person With Proteinuria in Nephrotic Syndrome

How can a caregiver help a person living with proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome?
There are many ways you can aid a loved one living with proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome, including:
  • Lending a hand with chores and responsibilities around the house
  • Learning all you can about proteinuria in nephrotic syndrome and staying current with the latest information about managing and treating it
  • Helping your loved one get organized and make sense of any important paperwork, such as test results and insurance claims
  • Working closely with your loved one’s doctors, nurses, and dieticians attending medical appointments, and tracking lab results
  • Being a good listener, as well as a source of encouragement for your loved one

Mallinckrodt intends this website to be informative, but you should remember the contents are general in nature and not meant to substitute for specific advice from healthcare professionals that may be necessary based on your individual questions and needs. We have made reasonable efforts to provide helpful and accurate information, however we make no guarantees and you should not solely rely on the information included here.