Diabetic Nephropathy

Diabetic nephropathy is kidney damage that occurs with diabetes. It is the job of the kidneys to: Damage from diabetes can prevent the kidneys from working well. In some cases, this can lead to kidney failure .

  • Causes

    Blood passes through small filters in the kidneys. Changes in the blood vessels due to diabetes can cause damage to these filters. Blood sugar levels that are not well-controlled can have the greatest impact on the kidney filters.

    Over time the damage to the filters increases. The damaged filters cannot clean the blood properly and protein from the blood can leak into the urine. If left untreated, this can lead to kidney failure.

  • Definition

    Diabetic nephropathy is kidney damage that occurs with diabetes.
    It is the job of the kidneys to:

    • Filter blood
    • Catch needed substances and return them to circulation
    • Creates urine to pass waste out of the body


    Damage from diabetes can prevent the kidneys from working well. In some cases, this can lead to
    kidney failure
    .

    Anatomy of the Kidney
    Nucleus factsheet image
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  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include the following:

    • Blood tests to check your kidney function
    • Urine tests to check for protein in your urine

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chances of getting diabetic nephropathy, take the following steps:

    • See your doctor regularly. During checkups, you will have your blood pressure, urine, blood, and organs monitored for changes.
    • Control blood sugar levels.
      Follow your diabetes treatment regimen as directed.
    • Work with your doctor to maintain a healthy blood pressure (less than 130/80 mmHg).
    • Exercise daily.
    • Quit smoking.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chance of diabetic nephropathy include Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes
    with:

    • Poor control
      of blood glucose
    • High blood pressure
      (puts further stress on your kidneys and increases your risk of kidney damage.)
    • High cholesterol

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may not appear until the kidney damage is very severe. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:

    • Fluid buildup may appear as swelling in feet or hands
    • Weakness
    • Loss of appetite
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Confusion and trouble concentrating

    If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume they are due to kidney problems. Symptoms may be caused by other conditions.

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.

    Treatment is aimed at preventing or slowing further kidney damage. It may involve lifestyle changes and medications. Your doctor will also work with you to help control your diabetes and blood pressure. This may help prevent further kidney damage.

    Lifestyle changes that will help control your blood sugar and blood pressure include:


    • Lose weight if you are
      overweight
    • Exercise
    • Eat less salt
    • Stop smoking
    • Avoid alcohol
    • Follow your diabetes management plan