There are multiple types of kidney diseases, but Diabetic Nephropathy is the no. 1 cause of kidney failure. In this post, we’ll explore the cause of this diabetic kidney disease; its link to diabetes; the signs and symptoms to watch for if you suspect you may have it; what types of treatment are the most common and where to get help if you would like to talk to a nephrology specialist.
What is Diabetic Nephropathy?
A kidney disease caused by diabetes is called Diabetic Nephropathy. It’s a condition that one-third of the diabetic population will develop and one of the most severe types of kidney disease. Diabetic Nephropathy is so common that unfortunately one in four women who have Type 2 diabetes develop it and one in five men do as well. For those with Type 1 diabetes, the cases are even more frequent.
What’s the link between Diabetes and Kidney Disease?
Essentially the patient’s natural filter leaks protein, due to high blood glucose levels brought on by diabetes, which leads to the damage of the kidneys. High blood pressure can also damage the kidneys and be a contributing factor.
Symptoms of Diabetic Nephropathy
What can be challenging is that many patients who have Diabetic Nephropathy initially exhibit no symptoms. Though the length of time someone has had diabetes can be a factor, as well as obesity or a smoking habit, without a urine test, it’s nearly impossible to detect. And in the time where no symptoms are felt, the kidneys unfortunately begin to deteriorate.
Once the damage becomes severe, those who have Diabetic Nephropathy often experience a significant weight loss that’s brought on by a poor appetite, which gradually decreases and/or a general nauseous feeling. They also my exhibit puffiness around the eyes and dry, itchy skin (which can sometimes be mistaken for allergies). Additionally, muscle cramps or twitching can occur in times that they wouldn’t normally be present (such as when they’re dehydrated or have over-exerted themselves physically). In some cases, other patients also report retaining fluid, which manifests into swollen ankles and feet. Like many diabetics, some with this disease feel a need to urinate more often and experience exhaustion/sleeplessness. A difficulty in concentrating can also result from this disease.
For those who suspect they may have Diabetic Nephropathy, a urine test is administered to check protein levels and most often a blood test to determine the quality of the kidney function will follow.
Treatment for Diabetic Nephropathy
The key to slowing the progression of Diabetic Nephropathy is early detection, and the good news is that if it’s caught in time, it can sometimes be completely reversed.
The first step nephrology specialists will take once you’re diagnosed is to try to get your blood pressure and blood glucose levels under control. This can be done through lifestyle modifications (diet and exercise) and oral medications or insulin. They will also recommend weight loss for patients who are overweight and a plan to stop smoking if that is a factor. There may also be medication to control cholesterol levels as well.
Once under control, regular testing is necessary to ensure healthy blood glucose levels are maintained so that the disease doesn’t advance.
Seek Medical Assistance
Our Nephrology Specialty Center is staffed with specialists who strive to preserve the function of each patient’s kidney through early detection and prompt treatment of threatening conditions. In most cases, future dialysis is either postponed or deemed unnecessary as a result of this intervention. To learn more about the services, including testing, diagnosis and treatment that our practice offers, visit this page. To make a Telehealth appointment, complete the form on this page.