What is Diabetic Nephropathy? Symptoms and Treatment Options
Diabetic nephropathy is a renal disease in which there is damage to the small blood vessels of the kidneys and kidney failure. The disease occurs when high blood sugar levels cause unstable and excessive levels of uric acid to accumulate in the body. This leads to diabetic nephropathy, where an individual exhibits symptoms like swollen legs and feet, blurry vision, mental confusion, difficulty sleeping at night and passing urine only occasionally. These are all common signs that you need to look after your doctor.
Diabetes, which is the leading cause of kidney disease, affects millions of Americans nationwide. Diabetes affects over one million people every year, and an additional 8.1 million will develop it over their lifetime. In total, 233,000 people die every year from kidney diseases. In 2013, there were 942,000 new cases of end-stage renal disease (ESRD), and 41% of diabetics will develop ESRD in their lifetime.
There are two types of DN. Type I is the most common and is associated with gradual damage to the kidneys over time. It’s usually diagnosed when there are problems with blood sugar levels, such as episodes of ketoacidosis (a dangerous form of diabetic ketoacidosis). Type II is less common and is caused by the body’s resistance to the effects of insulin. This can happen when the person has had diabetes for a long time or when they have a relatively mild form of the disease.
Don’t Ignore These Symptoms of Diabetic Nephropathy
Depending on the part of the body affected, diabetic nephropathy can cause a wide range of symptoms. The most common symptoms of DN have increased blood sugar levels, proteinuria (high levels of protein in the urine), and kidney failure. However, symptoms can also vary depending on the part of the body affected. For example, DN in the limbs can cause leg pain, numbness, and decreased sensation. In addition, DN in the eyes can cause vision problems, such as blindness and eye damage.
Symptoms of diabetic nephropathies include:
- Frequent urination
- Blood in urine
- Muscle cramps
- Abdominal pain
- Increased thirst
- Difficulty sleeping
- Weight loss
There are many different symptoms of DN and many of them can be mistaken for other conditions. The best way to avoid complications from DN is to manage your blood sugar levels and control the disease. If you have diabetes, it’s important to see your doctor regularly for blood tests to make sure your blood sugar levels are under control. A regular treatment plan can help prevent or delay DN if you have high blood sugar levels.
Are You at Risk for Diabetic Nephropathy? Get the Right Treatment
Treatment options for diabetic nephropathy depend on the part of the body affected. However, most people require some sort of care and treatment. Treatment usually involves managing the symptoms, depending on the severity of the condition. In some cases, treatment can also involve restoring kidney function.
The first step to preventing DN is to diagnose it early. People who have type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop DN compared to those without diabetes. A diagnosis of proteinuria may indicate DN. Other indicators of DN include high blood pressure, high sugar levels, low albumin levels, and elevated creatinine levels.
There are two types of treatments for diabetic nephropathy: medical treatment and dialysis. Medical treatment includes medications to lower blood glucose levels and reduce urination. Dialysis involves filtering out toxins from the blood using a machine. Both methods require regular checkups. If diagnosed early enough, both treatments can prevent kidney damage. However, some patients do not respond well to medical treatment or they cannot afford to continue taking medication.
If you think you might be at risk for diabetic nephropathies, talk to your doctor about your options. He or she can help determine whether you need to take medication or undergo dialysis. If you are already undergoing dialysis, ask your doctor how often you should visit the clinic. Most doctors recommend visiting at least once every three months.
What are the risk factors for diabetic nephropathy?
Risk factors for developing diabetic nephropathy include:
- Having diabetes for a long time
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Having a high blood pressure
- Having a history of heart disease
- Disposition to develop kidney lesions
Effects of diabetes on the kidneys include:
- Advanced age
- Low potassium levels
- Excess acidity in the blood
- High blood sugar levels
- Hardening of the arteries
- Kidney damage
There are a number of risk factors for diabetic nephropathy, and it is important to detect the condition as early as possible to improve the prognosis.
Here’s how to Stop Diabetic Nephropathy
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetic nephropathy affects more than one crore people in India alone and it causes significant morbidity and mortality rates among them as well. It can develop at any time during your diabetes but is more common in middle-aged and older people.
The best way to prevent DN is to control your diabetes as best as you can. This means following the advice of your doctor and ensuring you have access to the treatment you need, including insulin and fluids. If you do develop DN, you’ll need to have treatment to restore kidney function. This may involve medication, kidney transplants, or a combination of both.
It is common to manage diabetes, but that is not always true for its complications. This is especially relevant in DN, where most physicians see progressive renal failure as a natural progression and seek only to slow it down if possible. The direct cause of DN is unknown, but studies have shown that reducing blood glucose levels by 2% can reduce phase 3 DN by 57%. The protein that enables insulin signalling to work in your kidneys is called type 4 collagen. This protein may interact with chronic non-existent inflammation to inhibit optimal immune function and contribute to the eventual development of severe kidney disease.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What is diabetic nephropathy?
Ans- Diabetic Nephropathy is kidney damage caused by diabetes mellitus. In DN, the kidneys become damaged due to the long-term effects of high blood sugar levels. DN causes many complications including renal failure. Diabetic nephropathy occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own cells. Diabetes causes the immune system to attack the small blood vessels supplying the kidneys, causing the disease.
Q2. What are the symptoms of diabetic nephropathy?
Ans- High blood pressure, Kidney failure, Anemia, Retinopathy, Neuropathy, Heart Disease, and Foot Ulcers are some common symptoms of diabetic nephropathy.
Q3. What is a uremia condition in diabetic nephropathy?
Ans- Uremia is a condition where there is not enough blood flow to the kidneys. In diabetics, there is often a buildup of sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream that causes damage to the tiny blood vessels in the kidney. These damaged blood vessels prevent the proper filtering of toxins and wastes out of the body. As a result, these toxins build up in the blood, causing the kidneys to become swollen and unable to work properly.
Q4. What are the complications related to diabetic nephropathy?
Ans- Complications associated with diabetic nephropathy include hypertension, heart problems, stroke, vision loss, and amputation. Hypertension occurs when the blood pressure rises to dangerous levels. High blood pressure damages blood vessel linings and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Vision loss can occur if the blood vessels in the eyes close off, causing blindness. A stroke occurs when blood clots break loose and block an artery leading to the brain. Amputations can occur if the nerves in the foot or leg are damaged.
Q5. What are the causes and risk factors for diabetic nephropathy?
Ans- Diabetic Nephropathy (DN) is caused by damage to the kidneys due to diabetes. DN is a complication of diabetes mellitus and occurs in about 20% of patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or longer. Diabetics develop kidney disease at an earlier age than non-diabetics. The incidence of DN increases with the duration of diabetes and increased levels of blood glucose.
Risk Factors: Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, Hypertension, Age, Race/ethnicity, Family history, Hyperlipidemia, Smoking, Obesity, Retinopathy, and Peripheral neuropathy.
Q6. What can be best eaten by a patient with diabetic nephropathy?
Ans- The following foods have been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics: Beans (black, kidney, pinto), Berries (blueberry, cranberry, raspberry), Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Collards, Corn, Eggplant, Garlic, Grapefruit, Kale, Kiwi fruit, Leeks, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Onions, Peas, Pumpkin, Radishes, Spinach, Squash, Sweet potatoes, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watermelon, and Yams.