Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Diabetes health centre

Select a topic to explore more.
Select An Article

Diabetic nephropathy

What is diabetic nephropathy?

Diabetic nephropathy is another name for kidney disease caused by diabetes.

In people with diabetes, kidney disease is caused by damage to small blood vessels, which prevents the kidneys from working properly.

Managing blood glucose levels is important for helping to prevent kidney disease caused by diabetes.

What are the symptoms of diabetic nephropathy?

Although there are often no symptoms with early diabetic nephropathy, they may include:

  • Swelling of the hands, feet, and face
  • Weight gain
  • Itching (end-stage kidney disease) and extremely dry skin
  • Drowsiness (end-stage kidney disease)
  • Blood in the urine (rare)
  • Abnormalities in the heart's rhythm because of increased potassium in the blood
  • Muscle twitching

As kidney damage progresses, your kidneys cannot remove the waste from your blood. The waste then builds up in your body and can reach poisonous levels, a condition known as uraemia. People with uraemia are often confused or comatose. Uraemia is worsened by high blood pressure.

How is diabetic nephropathy diagnosed?

Diabetic nephropathy is detected by finding protein in the urine. That's why you should have your urine tested at least every year if you have diabetes.

How is diabetic nephropathy treated?

Lowering blood pressure and maintaining blood sugar control are absolutely necessary to slow the progression of diabetic nephropathy. Some drugs called angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors can help slow down the progression of kidney damage. Although ACE inhibitors are usually used to treat high blood pressure and other medical problems, they are often given to people with diabetes to help prevent complications, even if their blood pressure is normal.

If a person has side effects from taking ACE inhibitors, another class of drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) can be given instead.

If not treated, the kidneys will continue to fail and larger amounts of proteins can be detected in the urine. Advanced kidney failure requires treatment with dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on January 11, 2018

Diabetes newsletter

Tips for managing your diabetes.
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

How to help headache pain
rash on skin
Top eczema triggers to avoid
Causes of fatigue & how to fight it
Tips to support digestive health
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
woman sleeping
Sleep better tonight
Treating your child's cold or fever
fifth disease
Illnesses every parent should know
spoonfull of sugar
Surprising things that harm your liver
woman holding stomach
Understand this common condition
What your nails say about your health