What is diabetic nephropathy?
It is a type of progressive kidney disease which is prone to occur in people who have diabetes.
It affects people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and the risk increases with the duration of the disease. Some other factors like high blood pressure and a family history of kidney disease also contribute to the cause.
Diabetes is the most common cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). ESRD is the fifth and final stage of diabetic nephropathy.This condition progresses slowly but with early treatment it can be slowed down.
Not everyone who develops nephropathy progresses to kidney failure or ESRD, and having diabetes does not definitely mean you will develop diabetic nephropathy.
What are the symptoms of diabetic nephropathy?
There are hardly any noticeable symptoms early on.
But symptoms of ESRD may include:
- General overall unwell feeling
- Loss of appetite
- Itchy and dry skin
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swelling of your arms and legs
What causes diabetic nephropathy?
Each kidney has nephrons. Nephrons are basically small structures that filter waste from the blood.
Diabetes can cause nephrons to thicken and scar, which make it less efficient to filter waste and remove fluid from the body. This causes it to leak a type of protein called albumin into the urine. Albumin can be measured to help diagnose and determine the progression of diabetic nephropathy.
The exact reason for its occurrence in people with diabetes is still unknown, but high blood sugar levels and high blood pressure are believed to contribute to diabetic nephropathy.
Other factors shown to increase risk of getting diabetic nephropathy are:
- Family history of kidney disease
- Type 1 diabetic in an early age
- Regular smoking
- Other diabetic complications such as eye disease or nerve damage
Common test to diagnose Diabetic Nephropathy
- Microalbuminuria urine test
- BUN blood test
- Serum creatinine blood test
- Kidney biopsy
Tips for healthy kidneys
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, there are a few steps you can take to keep your kidneys healthy and reduce the risk.
- Keep your blood sugar levels within normal range (a glucometer helps)
- Manage blood pressure and get treated
- Quit smoking.
- Get into a healthy weight bracket based on your BMI.
- Maintain a healthy diet, one which is low in sodium.
- Make exercise a daily part of your routine.