Diabetes and its Complications: Diabetic Nephropathy
Once you have diabetes, there is no cure…… You must live life as a diabetic. Diabetes is a chronic disease that increases your blood sugar levels and over time damages your body parts like the heart, eyes, blood vessels, kidneys, and nerves. But you can control its complications by controlling your blood sugar levels.
What is Diabetic Kidney Disease?
The kidney has many tiny filters called nephrons that filter the blood and throw the waste out in the form of urine. However, diabetes and high blood sugar levels can damage the tiny blood vessels inside the kidney and nephrons are not able to filter the blood as they should be, resulting in permanent damage to the kidneys. This is called Diabetic Kidney Disease or Diabetic Nephropathy.
1 out of 3 adults with diabetes suffer from Diabetic Nephropathy.
Causes and Risk Factors
The main cause of nephropathy is not taking enough care of your blood sugar levels. Poorly controlled diabetes can damage blood vessels in your kidneys that filter waste from your blood over time. This can damage the kidneys and cause high blood pressure. High blood pressure can worsen kidney damage by increasing pressure in the kidneys’ delicate filtering system.
The risk factors are:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Having a family history of diabetes and kidney disease
Although it does not have any symptoms in the initial stages, advanced nephropathy symptoms include:
- Poor blood pressure control
- Protein in the urine
- Swelling of feet, ankles, and wrists
- Increased urination
- Puffiness around the eyes
- Reduction in the need for insulin/ medication
- Confusion or difficulty concentrating
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Persistent itching
As kidney function declines, a variety of other issues may arise, such as anemia and an imbalance of calcium, phosphate, and other nutrients in the bloodstream. These can cause a variety of symptoms, including fatigue from anemia and bone thinning or fractures from calcium and phosphate imbalance. End-stage kidney failure is fatal if not treated.
As there is no cure once you have diabetic kidney disease. The first step of the treatment is to control the blood sugar levels. That can delay the damage to your kidneys. Medications like angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, or angiotensin 2 receptor antagonists (AIIRA) help you to control your blood pressure. For blood sugar control doctors can prescribe Fortamet, Glumetza, or others. You should control your cholesterol levels with medication. And in case of kidney failure, you might need to go through dialysis or worst case, a kidney transplant.
The main step you can take to prevent this disease is to try to maintain your blood sugar levels in the target range as much as possible. Other steps are:
- Make sure you get regular blood pressure, and A1C tests, to know your diabetes control.
- Keep your cholesterol levels in control, and take medication, if necessary.
- Eat food that is low in sodium.
- Maintain a healthy weight by eating more fruits and vegetables.
- Take care of your diabetes by taking medications as prescribed.
- Quit smoking.
- Exercise regularly to keep yourself physically active.
Diabetes can be extremely dangerous if you don’t take care of it. It can damage your eyes, heart, nerves, kidneys, and blood vessels. So, once you have diabetes try your best to keep your blood sugar levels in control and get regular checkups to avoid any complications. And make sure you eat healthily and keep yourself physically active. By following all these steps, you can lead a good life, even with diabetes.
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