The term ‘Nephropathy’ means kidney damage or disease. If this is caused due to diabetes, it is termed as diabetic nephropathy. Each human kidney has about a million nephrons which filter waste from the blood. Each nephron consists of filtering unit called ‘glomerulus’ which is damaged because of diabetes. This damage leads to leakage of proteins such as albumin into urine, which is a typical first sign of diabetic nephropathy. As the disease progresses, kidney functionality reduces gradually and finally results in kidney failure.
diabetic nephropathy causes
In diabetics with poor glycaemic control, chronically elevated blood sugar levels cause thickening and scarring of the nephrons and gradually decreases kidney’s efficiency to filter the waste products from the blood. Over time, with poorly controlled diabetes, kidney functionality gets totally impaired resulting in kidney failure. Overall, diabetics have 17 times greater probability of developing kidney disease versus non-diabetics.
diabetic nephropathy symptoms
Among diabetics, damage to the kidneys gets initiated 5 to 10 years before you experience any symptoms. This is the period when diabetic nephropathy is in the early stages. But as the disease progresses, the kidney’s functioning diminishes and you can have symptoms such as:
- Fluid build-up causing swelling in the legs, ankles
- Itchy skin
- Poor appetite, stomach upset
- Loss of sleep, weakness and difficulty concentrating
diabetic nephropathy management
By treating and preventing the risk factors for diabetic nephropathy, diabetics can manage its onset or progress. Your doctor can individualize your targets for controlling these risk factors based on several parameters.
These interventions include.
- Maintenance of optimal glycaemic and blood pressure control
- Consulting your doctor or dietician for a customized dietary plan with ways to limit your salt, protein, alcohol and caffeine.
- Quitting smoking
- Good cholesterol control
- Anaemia assessment and treatment