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.