Last Updated: 15th December, 2020
Diabetic nephropathy, conjointly referred to as diabetic kidney disease, is one among the foremost common complications of diabetes. Diabetes and high blood pressure account for 40–60% cases of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in India. If left untreated, chronic nephropathy might cause kidney failure.
What Is Diabetic Nephropathy?
Diabetic nephropathy (chronic kidney disease also known as CKD) in simple terms would be damaging of the kidney caused by diabetes. Because of diabetes, having high blood sugar levels may damage the segment of the kidneys filtering your blood. The defective filter would become ‘porous‘ and leaves your urine with protein.
Let’s discuss on how excess glucose can affect the kidneys and tips to prevent CKD.
How Does Diabetes Affect Your Kidneys?
If you’re a long-standing diabetic or have uncontrolled diabetes, it will push you in danger of complications like diabetic nephropathy. Excess glucose can cause thickening of blood vessels in the kidneys. It also causes swelling of the filtration units (glomerulus) that affects the normal functioning of the kidneys.
Healthy kidneys don’t permit excess proteins to undergo the filters. But when the filtration process is impacted, microalbumin, a type of protein, is excreted through urine. This gradually increases the pressure on the kidneys and in the long run leads to CKD and kidney failure.
You are at risk of diabetic nephropathy if you:
- Consistently have a high blood glucose level.
- Have high blood pressure.
- Have a family history of kidney disease/hypertension.
- Are obese.
- Are a smoker.
Symptoms Of Diabetic Nephropathy
Usually, there are no early warning signs of diabetic nephropathy. The symptoms appear only when the function of the kidneys starts to worsen, which is late in the course of the disease. In most CKD cases, around 70% of the kidney function is impaired when the symptoms start to appear. Some of the common signs and symptoms of CKD are:
- Swollen ankles, feet, hands, face.
- Poor appetite
- Nausea and weakness
- Itching and dry skin
- Sleep trouble
- Muscle twitching
Diagnosis Of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
A daily urine analysis for microalbumin, a protein which is excreted in the urine because of defective kidney function, is one of most reliable ways to identify diabetic kidney disease. It acts as one of the primary signs of kidney damage because of diabetes and might facilitate to stop the complications of diabetes.
So if you have been diabetic or have diabetes for more than 2 years, it is suggested that you attend an annual urinalysis for microalbumin (protein) or as your doctor advises. It is also recommended even if you are taking medicines to control blood glucose levels or high blood pressure.
How To Prevent The Progression Of Diabetic Nephropathy
Yes, diabetic nephropathy may be prevented if you retain your blood sugar levels in check with diet, medicine, and exercise. However, there are a few more things to keep in mind:
- If you’re above forty years, it is advised to get your blood glucose, cholesterol and hypertension checked annually or as advised by your doctor.
- If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, ensure your HbA1c level is less than 7 (Or less than 6.5 as advised by your diabetologist.)
- If you are suffering from hypertension, your blood pressure doesn’t ideally exceed 130/80 mm Hg.
- If you do have diabetes or high blood pressure or even both get urine microalbumin tested each year to detect kidney damage earlier.
- If you’re diagnosed with kidney damage, make sure all the risk factors are in check and take medicines are prescribed by your doctor to enhance kidney function.
- If you do have kidney disease medications, make absolutely sure that you regulate your diet by eating low-protein, low-fat, and less salty meals.
Do not delay to see a doctor at any stage if you feel that something is wrong and you are realizing it. Most of the time our ignorance becomes the major cause of a disease to grow and affect.