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This article provides a very brief overview of nephrotic and nephriticsyndrome, to help you differentiate the two conditions.
Nephrotic syndrome is a condition involving the loss of significant volumes of protein via the kidneys (proteinuria) which results in hypoalbuminaemia. The definition of nephroticsyndrome includes both massive proteinuria (≥3.5 g/day) and hypoalbuminaemia (serum albumin ≤30 g/L). 1
As a result of hypoalbuminaemia, nephrotic syndrome is associated with oedema (due to reduced oncotic pressure), hyperlipidaemia and hypercoagulability.
Symptoms of nephrotic syndrome can include:
Peripheral oedema (more common in adults)
Facial oedema (more common in children)
Frothiness of urine
Recurrent infections (due to immune dysfunction)
Venous or arterial thrombosis (e.g. myocardial infarction, deep vein thrombosis) due to hypercoagulability
Clinical signs of nephrotic syndrome can include:
Oedema (e.g. peri-orbital, lower limb, ascites)
Xanthelasma and/or xanthoma
Shortness of breath (with associated chest signs of pleural effusion – e.g. stony dullness in lung bases)
Typical findings on urinalysis in the context of nephroticsyndrome include:
Proteinuria (protein ++++)
Nephritic syndrome is a condition involving haematuria, mild to moderate proteinuria (typically less than 3.5g/L/day), hypertension, oliguria and red cell casts in the urine.
Symptoms of nephritic syndrome can include:
Haematuria (can be frank haematuria or microscopic)
Oedema (to a lesser extent compared to nephrotic syndrome)
Haematuria (either visible or detectable on urinalysis)
Typical findings on urinalysis in the context of nephritic syndrome include:
Haematuria (blood +++)
Proteinuria (mild – protein ++)
Red cell casts – distinguishing feature of nephritic syndrome, form in nephrons and indicate glomerular damage
Nishi S, Ubara Y, Utsunomiya Y, et al; Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for nephrotic syndrome 2014. Clin Exp Nephrol. 2016 Jun20(3):342-70. doi: 10.1007/s10157-015-1216-x. Available from: [LINK]
Dr Colin Tidy. Patient.info. Acute Nephritis. Published: 21st June 2016. Available from: [LINK]