How Can Diabetes Affect The Kidneys And Cause Diabetic Nephropathy?

Posted by Nirmala Subramanian on Sat, Mar 13, 2010  
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It was nice to note that the theme of the World Kidney Day for 2010 was the effect of diabetes on kidney problems. Yes, diabetes can affect the kidney to the extent that it does not function properly needing life-long dialysis or transplant of kidney. On the dusk of the International Kidney Day 2010 I would like to enlighten one and all of how diabetes can affect the kidney and lead to diabetic nephropathy. We all need to protect ourselves from diabetes first and from failure of our kidneys permanently leading to diabetic nephropathy.


Diabetic Nephropathy or the kidney being damaged permanently is caused as a side effect of diabetes due to factors like high blood sugar and high blood pressure. It has been noted that most diabetics suffer from some damage to the kidney.  The main indicator that ones kidney is being damaged is the presence of albumin; a protein in the urine. This may be present in the blood also. About 1/5 of Type 2 diabetics and 2/5 of diabetic Type 1 patients do have this protein albumin in their urine, which increases and causes diabetic nephropathy.



There are no prominent signs of anything at first and symptoms start showing only when there is an increase in the protein in urine. Diabetics usually suffer from frequent urination, fatigue and high potassium levels. The symptoms of impeding kidney failure or diabetic nephropathy shows up as reduced urination, increase in potassium levels, increased fatigue and a state of confusion most of the time. There could also be dangerous heart rhythm symptoms.


However it is best for one to have screening for diabetic nephropathy done regularly to take prompt and timely action. Well, the screening for diabetic nephropathy should start once the diabetic is diagnosed with microalbuminuria and should be done annually. In addition, diabetics of 5 years and above and children at the onset of puberty and Type 1 diabetics should be screened regularly at periodic intervals. However it is best to not screen or check urine samples when a person is suffering from urinary tract infection, when the blood pressure is high and uncontrolled, and similar conditions as these tests could give inaccurate readings.  Yes, there other screening tests like diabetic retinopathy that could also help in screening.


However preventing diabetes and acting as a defense towards diabetic nephropathy is purely in a person’s hands. He has to build a better and healthy lifestyle like excluding fats or having a low fat diet, doing light and regular exercises, quitting smoking and alcohol intake and making efforts to control ones sugar and blood pressure levels. One should learn to take life easy and try to minimize stress. Also, it would do well to reduce or eliminate sugar and salt from ones diet.


It is best to also take ones sugar control and blood pressure control medications regularly along with other preventive measures. Yes, one has to control the fat in ones diet to control the harm played by excess of cholesterol in blood and to prevent obesity, which is the root of many harmful health problems. 


Now the question, which may arise in the mind of most people, is that what is the indication that I have to meet a nephrologist or kidney specialist. When once it is diagnosed that one has albuminuria in the urine, a further test is carried on to determine the  glomerular filtration rate; which is the best indicator of how well ones kidney is working. If glomerular filtration rate is dropping it indicates a decline in kidney function and a visit to a kidney specialist or nephrologist. This specialist is the best to decide on the protection of the kidney against further damage and on the procedure of treatment. 


So dear friends, I am sure you all must have understood all about diabetic nephropathy. However here are few more links that could help educate you further about diabetic nephropathy.


All the best dear friends to protect yourself from diabetic nephropathy.


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