Metabolic Health

Diabetic Nephropathy - Causes & Symptoms

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Diabetic nephropathy is a potentially life-threatening consequence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetic kidney disorder is another name for this condition. Diabetic nephropathy is a condition that impairs the kidneys' capacity to perform their normal function of eliminating waste products and excess fluid from the body. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating right and working out are some of the preventive measures that can be taken. Properly treating your diabetes and high blood pressure are the most effective ways to avoid or postpone diabetic nephropathy.

Over a long period of time, the disease gradually deteriorates the delicate filtration mechanism of your kidneys. Early therapy may be able to prevent or decrease the progression of the illness, as well as lower the likelihood of complications. This chronic kidney dysfunction may lead to kidney failure in the long run, which is referred to as end-stage kidney disease in certain conditions. Kidney failure is a life-threatening illness that requires immediate medical attention and under no circumstances should be postponed. Dialysis or a kidney transplant are the only therapy options available at this point for diabetic nephropathy

Causes Of Diabetic Nephropathy

Finding out what causes diabetic nephropathy can in turn help in diabetic nephropathy treatment. Diabetes causes damage to blood vessels and other cells in the kidneys, resulting in diabetic nephropathy. Millions of small blood artery clusters (glomeruli) in your kidneys filter waste from your blood. Damage to these blood arteries may result in diabetic nephropathy, impaired kidney function, and kidney failure. Diabetic nephropathy is a frequent type 1 and type 2 diabetic consequence. Poorly managed diabetes may cause damage to blood vessel clusters in your kidneys, which filter waste from your blood, over time. This may harm the kidneys and create excessive blood pressure and diabetic nephropathy treatment becomes difficult in that case. 

Symptoms Of Diabetic Nephropathy

The Diabetic Nephropathy Symptoms aren’t noticeable during the early stages of this disorder. During the latter stages though, the symptoms start to show and the following is a list if diabetic nephropathy symptoms.

  • Worsening blood pressure control
  • Protein in the urine
  • Swelling of feet, ankles, hands or eyes
  • Increased need to urinate
  • Reduced need for insulin or diabetes medicine
  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent itching
  • Fatigue

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Complications Of Diabetic Nephropathy

A lot of complications can arise after a diabetic nephropathy diagnosis and there are also several risk factors which may increase the risk of diabetic nephropathy among people living with diabetes. The following variables may raise your risk of diabetic nephropathy:

  • Uncontrolled blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia)
  • High blood pressure that is uncontrolled (hypertension)
  • Smoking
  • High triglyceride levels
  • Obesity
  • Genetic Disorders

High blood pressure may worsen kidney disease by raising pressure in the kidneys' sensitive filtration mechanism.

Here are the complications that may arise over the years.

  • This may result in swelling in your arms and legs, elevated blood pressure, and fluid retention in your lungs, among other complications (pulmonary edema)
  • An increase in the potassium levels in your bloodstream (hyperkalemia)
  • Heart and blood vessel disease (cardiovascular disease), which has the potential to result in stroke
  • Specifically, damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue located at the rear of the eye (diabetic retinopathy)
  • Decreased amount of red blood cells to carry oxygen (anemia)
  • Foot sores, erectile dysfunction, diarrhea, and other issues associated with injured nerves and blood arteries are all possibilities.
  • Bone and mineral problems are caused by the kidneys' failure to maintain a proper balance of calcium and phosphorus in the bloodstream.
  • Miscarriages and pregnancies that are complicated and pose hazards to the mother and the developing foetus
  • End-stage renal disease is the result of irreversible damage to your kidneys, which ultimately results in the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival.

Prevention Of Diabetic Nephropathy

While the complications of diabetic nephropathy are severe and there is no known cure for it, there are various preventive steps that one can take to ensure that they remain in good health. 

  • Keep your diabetes management visits on a regular basis. Attend all of your yearly checkups — or more frequent appointments if indicated by your health care team — to have your diabetes managed properly, as well as to be checked for diabetic nephropathy and other complications.
  • Maintain control over excessive blood pressure or other medical issues. If you have high blood pressure or any other medical issues that raise your risk of kidney disease, work with your doctor to get them under control as soon as possible.
  • You can either avoid or postpone diabetic nephropathy if you take good care of your diabetic condition and follow the dos and don'ts.
  • Maintain a healthy weight by exercising regularly. If you are at a healthy weight, make an effort to keep it there by engaging in physical activity on most days of the week. Discuss weight-loss techniques with your doctor if you need to reduce weight. Some options include increasing regular physical activity and eating fewer calories.
  • Give up smoking. Cigarette smoking may cause kidney damage and also exacerbate renal damage that has already occurred. If you're a smoker, speak with your doctor about techniques for stopping the tobacco habit. Support groups, therapy, and certain drugs may all assist you in your efforts to quit smoking.

Bottomline

Diabetic nephropathy is a potentially life-threatening consequence of type 2 and type 1 diabetes. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating right and working out are some of the preventive measures that can be taken. Dialysis or a kidney transplant are the only therapy options available and there is no known cure or method of reversal. The sooner one starts treatment after diagnosis, the better it is for them. There is no known cure for it, but there are various preventive steps that one can take to ensure they remain in good health and you can find some of them stated here. 

FAQs

What diet should I follow if I have diabetic nephropathy?

You must always consult a nutritionist for a detailed diet plan. Besides that, berries, grapes, cherries, apples, plums, cauliflower, onions, eggplant, turnips, lean meats (poultry, fish), eggs, and unsalted seafood are all beneficial for this disorder.

What are the stages of diabetic nephropathy?

Stage 1: Kidney damage present but normal kidney function and a GFR of 90% or above.

Stage 2: Kidney damage with some loss of function and a GFR of 60–89%.

Stage 3: Mild to severe loss of function and a GFR of 30–59%.

Stage 4: Severe loss of function and GFR of 15–29%.

Stage 5: Kidney failure and a GFR of under 15%.

A person may not notice any symptoms in the early stages of diabetic nephropathy. Changes in blood pressure and fluid balance in the body, on the other hand, may already be evident. Waste materials may accumulate in the blood over time, causing symptoms. The sooner one starts their diabetic nephropathy treatment after diagnosis, the better it is. 

Can Diabetic Nephropathy be reversed?

Diabetic neuropathy is incurable and has no known treatment. You may control diabetic nerve pain with medicine, exercise, and a healthy diet, among other strategies. The nerve damage caused due to diabetes cannot be reversed or cured. There are no known diabetic nephropathy treatments, but it can be managed via certain therapies like dialysis. 

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