Diabetic Nephropathy

1 What is Diabetic Nephropathy?

Diabetic nephropathy is a common complication of diabetes that causes damage to the delicate filtering system of the kidneys.

It can occur in both patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The kidneys contain millions of tiny clusters of blood vessels known as glomeruli. These serve the function of filtering wastes from blood.

Kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease may occur if these vessels are damaged. Irreversible end-stage kidney disease requires dialysis or kidney transplant.

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2 Symptoms

Many patients may not experience any symptoms in the early stages of diabetic nephropathy.

Symptoms usually appear after a period of more than 5 years. They may include:

3 Causes

The exact cause of diabetic nephropathy is unknown.

However, several factors, such as poor control of blood sugar, high blood pressure, smoking and a family history of kidney diseases have been implicated in the development of this disease.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Diagnosis of diabetic nephropathy is based on a physical exam, medical history, blood tests and urinalysis.

Doctors may also perform kidney function tests to find the extent of damage to the kidney.

5 Treatment

Treatment for diabetic nephropathy is aimed at slowing the progression of kidney damage and preventing further complications.

Medications to control blood sugar and high blood pressure can also be administered. Patients may also be recommended to limit their intake of salt.

6 Prevention

Diabetic nephropathy can be prevented by controlling blood sugar and high blood pressure.

7 Risks and Complications

Factors that can increase the risk of developing diabetic nephropathy include:

  • Family history of diabetic nephropathy
  • Poor control of the level of blood sugar
  • Having high blood pressure

If diabetic nephropathy is left untreated, it can lead to kidney failure. In such cases, a patient may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.

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