Diabetic nephropathy, also termed as diabetic kidney disease is the damage to kidneys due to diabetes. This condition affects the kidney’s ability to filter out waste products from the blood. Diabetic nephropathy is a slowly progressive condition that can cause permanent damage to kidneys and may lead to kidney failure. The condition can be deadly or life threatening.
Diabetic nephropathy occurs when diabetes damages the kidney cells. Hence the major cause is poorly managed diabetes, especially type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Other causes include:
- Hypertension-high blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Family history
Early stages of diabetic nephropathy may not exhibit any symptoms. The condition slowly progresses and damages the kidney’s ability to filter waste products from blood. The signs that may occur as the diseases progresses are:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Muscle cramps
- Swelling in hands or eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent urination
- Poor control on blood pressure
- Itchy skin
- Swelling in feet or ankles
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Protein in urine
Diagnostic procedures for diabetic nephropathy may include the following:
- Review of signs and symptoms
- Medical history
- Physical examination
- Urine tests
- Blood tests
- Imaging procedures
- CT-Computerised tomography
- MRI-Magnetic resonance imaging
- Kidney function tests
- Kidney biopsy
- Maintain healthy levels of blood sugar, cholesterol and pressure levels
- Avoid or stop smoking
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid certain medication that can cause or increase the risk of diabetic nephropathy
- Treat your diabetes
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
The major and most important step in the treatment of diabetic nephropathy is to control diabetes.
- Medications are mostly used in the early stages. Drugs may be prescribed to:
- Control high blood sugar
- Control high blood pressure
- Control cholesterol levels in blood
- Control protein in urine
- Manage calcium phosphate balance for good bone health.
Advanced stages of diabetic nephropathy may require kidney dialysis and kidney transplant.
- Kidney dialysis is the method of purifying blood either using fluids (peritoneal dialysis) or using a machine (hemodialysis).
- Kidney transplantation is the replacement of damaged kidneys with a healthy kidney from a donor.
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