Nephrotic syndrome is also called nephrosis. These two terms describe a condition in which the kidneys leak large and abnormal amounts of protein into the urine. When protein is lost in the urine, this leads to puffiness or swelling (edema), often of the eyelids, feet and ankles, and eventually the abdomen. If left untreated, this can lead to problems with breathing, eating and infections. The onset or first "attack" of nephrotic syndrome can be a disturbing experience for parents and for the child. Because the swelling tends to develop slowly, it may not be recognized right away. By the time a diagnosis is made by a doctor, a child may be very swollen and may need to be hospitalized.
However, research into this condition is ongoing and researchers are trying to develop increasingly effective treatments. What we do know is that nephrotic syndrome is usually caused by an imbalance, from time to time, of the body’s immune system. This imbalance causes certain chemicals to disturb the filters of the kidneys. These filters begin to allow proteins to leak into the urine. When a child is first diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome, the doctors will usually prescribe steroid drugs such as prednisone or prednisolone. The kinds of steroids used to treat nephrotic syndrome are not the same as the anabolic steroids that are sometimes abused by athletes.