Most patients with diabetes are known to get kidney disease over a period of time which may become a life-threatening condition if not handled properly. In this article, we shed light on the kidney disease associated with diabetes termed as ‘diabetic nephropathy.’
What is diabetic kidney disease?
Diabetic Kidney Disease, medically termed as Diabetic Nephropathy, is a condition in which the filtering mechanism of the kidneys is damaged because of which it is unable to filter the blood properly and abnormal amounts of protein ‘albumin’ leak from the blood into the urine. Presence of higher amount (as compared to normal range) of albumin in the urine is the first warning sign that kidneys may be damaged.
Depending on the amount of albumin being secreted in the urine, diabetic kidney disease is characterized as:
(also known as incipient nephropathy) when the amount of albumin is between 30 and 300 mg per day.
(also known as macroalbuminuria or overt nephropathy) when the amount of albumin is more than 300 mg per day.
How is diabetic kidney disease developed?
The high blood glucose levels in diabetics releases some chemical within the kidney which causes scarring of glomeruli. Glomeruli are the tiny structures within kidney that filters blood. Scarring process makes glomeruli perforated and leaky. These scarred glomerulus began to replace healthy kidney tissues as a result kidney becomes less efficient in filtering the blood and gradually began to fail progressing towards what is known as ‘end stage’ kidney failure.
What are the symptoms of diabetic kidney disease?
There are hardly any symptoms during the initial stages of diabetic kidney disease. Following symptoms appear only when the disease progresses to a more severe stage.
- Difficult concentrating, thinking clearly or taking decisions
- Less appetite
- Excessive weight loss
- Dry and itchy skin
- Muscle cramps
- Tiredness and less energetic
- Feeling unwell
- Fluid retention causing swelling of feet and ankles, and puffiness around the eyes
- Frequent urge to urinate
What increases the risk of developing diabetic kidney disease?
Though everyone who suffers from diabetes have a risk of developing diabetic kidney disease but following risk factors increase the chances of diabetic kidney disease:
- Uncontrolled blood sugar levels
- Having diabetes from a long period of time
- Excessive weight gain
- High blood pressure
How is diabetic kidney disease diagnosed and assessed?
Urine tests are done to measure the amount of albumin present in the urine.
Blood tests to measure the level of creatinine protein in the blood. This shows how well the kidneys are working. The higher the creatinine level in blood shows kidneys are not functioning properly.
What are the possible complications?
End-stage kidney failure develops in those diagnosed with proteinuria initially. In these people, kidneys completely fail to perform their function and have to be put on dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Developing heart diseases or stroke
- High blood pressure which in turn worsens the functioning of the kidneys
What is the treatment for diabetic kidney disease?
There are two basic objectives of the treatment of the diabetic kidney disease:
- Stopping the progress to end-stage kidney failure.
- Reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
Certain medications which avoid the harmful effect on kidney and controlling blood glucose levels are the two ways to achieve the above objectives. It is always recommended to follow your doctors’ advice if you are suffering from diabetes and monitor the health of your kidney.
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