Looking closer at Diabetic Nephropathy

 

Diabetic Nephropathy or Diabetic Kidney Disease is a serious condition which is caused by Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes. According to a report, 40% of the people suffering from diabetes eventually develop Diabetic Nephropathy as it causes damage to the kidneys.

The main functionality of kidneys is to remove the harmful wastes, toxins and extra fluid from the body, and the person who is suffering from this condition can accumulate toxins or other fluids in the body.

As per doctors, the best way to prevent this condition is to live a healthy life and treating the symptoms of diabetes and high blood pressure. The damage of the kidneys usually occur over the years, and if the condition is diagnosed at an early stage there are chances to treat the disease and also reduce the risk of severe complications.

Symptoms of Diabetic Nephropathy

Some of the common symptoms of the condition are listed below:

  • The blood pressure of the body will be on the higher side and it is quite hard to control
  • As the kidneys will be damaged, the protein which is required by the body starts to flow with the urine
  • There will be swelling in different parts of the body including feet, ankles, hands and even the eyes
  • There will be a high accumulation of fluid in the body and increased the urge to urinate frequently
  • The change might occur in the condition of diabetes in the body and there will be less need for insulin and other diabetes medication
  • The person will not able to concentrate as there will be a sense of confusion
  • The digestion system of the body will also be affected and there will be a loss of appetite
  • There will be a sense of vomiting and nausea
  • The condition will lead to itching in different parts of the body
  • Fatigue

Causes of Diabetic Nephropathy

Our kidneys have millions of blood vessels which are used to filter waste from the flowing blood and that waste is carried out of the body with the help of urination system. Any damage caused to these vessels can cause the condition of Diabetic Nephropathy which can lead to decreased kidney function and eventually kidney failure. The main cause of this disease is Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes which increase the blood pressure of the body if left untreated for most of the time. The high blood pressure will increase the pressure in the filtering system of the kidneys, which can cause severe damage to their overall functionality.

 Risk factors involved with the condition

  • The person suffering from Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, has chances of developing the condition with time
  • The high sugar level in the body can also add to the cause of the problem
  • High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors
  • A person who is suffering from Diabetes and is also a smoker increases his/her chances of developing this disease
  • High cholesterol level accompanied with Diabetes
  • Anyone in the family who has suffered or is suffering from the condition also increases the chances of getting infected with the disease

Complications related to Diabetic Nephropathy

There are a number of complications related to the disease, which are also dependent on the severity of the condition. Some of the common complications includes:

  • As the kidneys are unable to take the waste out from the body, it can lead to the retention of the fluid which can also result in the swelling of legs and arms with a continuous increase in the blood pressure
  • The level of potassium also increases in the body, way above the requirement level
  • Continuous pressure on the blood veins can lead to different heart diseases and also cause a stroke
  • There are certain cases in which the blood pressure causes damage to the veins of the retina
  • Problems like foot sores, diarrhoea, and erectile dysfunction may occur with time
  • The condition can also cause damage to the feotus during pregnancy and delays the process of development
  • The end stage of the condition decreases the main functionality of the kidneys which leads to either dialysis or kidney transplant for survival

Diagnosis of Diabetic Nephropathy

Usually, the doctor asks about the signs and symptoms and the complete medical history. This helps them understand the condition which is again followed by a number of tests:

  • Blood tests: The most common test to know the status of a patient’s diabetes and how well the kidneys are working
  • Urine tests: These are also important as the presence of protein in urine may indicate that the kidneys are affected with the disease
  • Renal function testing: The process is used to check the filtering capacity of the kidneys
  • Kidney biopsy: There are cases in which the doctor will recommend to go through the biopsy (the surgeons will remove a sample of your kidney tissue). The sample will be sent for observation to know the status and condition of the organ.

Treatment

There are a number of treatment options available, which is dependent on the condition and at what stage the disease has been diagnosed. Most of the times patients are recommended with certain medications which will control the blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol level, and protein in the urine. The process will require follow-up testing to check the recovery and how the organs are responding to the medications.

The author Dr. Sudeep Singh Sachdev is a Nephrologist at Narayana Super Speciality Hospital, Gurugram.

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