Diabetes and Kidney Damage. Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease characterized by high blood sugar levels resulting from ineffective use and insufficient production of insulin. This condition is widespread worldwide and can cause many health complications, including diabetic kidney damage. This article will explore the development of diabetic kidney damage, including the symptoms, risk factors, and available treatment options.

What is diabetes kidney damage?

Diabetic kidney damage, also known as diabetic nephropathy, is a progressive condition that can develop in individuals with varying blood sugar levels. This severe complication is associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and research shows that 1 in 3 diabetes patients will develop diabetic nephropathy.

The condition affects the kidney’s ability to filter excess fluid and waste products from the body. It occurs when high glucose levels damage the kidneys’ filters over time, leading to impaired kidney function and, in some cases, kidney failure.

What are the symptoms of diabetic kidney damage?

In its early stages, diabetic nephropathy may not exhibit symptoms. However, when it progresses, the following symptoms may appear:

  • Swollen ankles, feet, and hands
  • Increased urination
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Foamy urine
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry skin
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle cramps
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty concentrating

Causes and Risk Factors

The main cause of diabetic kidney damage is high blood sugar levels over a long period of time, which can damage the small blood vessels in the kidneys. These vessels are called glomeruli. Damaged glomeruli can cause kidney malfunctioning and impair its ability to filter waste from the blood. Leaving this condition unattended can also lead to kidney failure.

However, there are other factors that increase an individual’s susceptibility to the condition:

  • Genetic circumstances
  • Smoking or alcohol abuse
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Length of time that an individual has had diabetes

People with diabetes who have uncontrolled blood sugar levels, have had the condition for a long time, or have other health problems should be particularly mindful of this risk and work closely with their healthcare team to manage their condition.

What are treatment options for diabetic nephropathy?

Doctors prescribe medications to treat diabetic nephropathy in its early stages. These medications are as follows:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors for hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Metformin (Fortamet, Glumetza, etc.) for blood sugar control
  • Statins for high cholesterol
  • Finerenone (Kerendia) for kidney scarring

Besides medications, dietary modifications are also necessary. You can ask your dietitian for guidance to create a diet that will support a good kidney health.

If, in any case, the condition gets severe, dialysis or kidney transplantation may be necessary.

How to prevent diabetic nephropathy?

Preventing diabetic nephropathy can be done by managing your blood sugar levels effectively. It is important to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and take any medications as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Regular monitoring of blood pressure and cholesterol levels can also help prevent diabetic nephropathy. It is important to have regular check-ups with your healthcare provider to ensure that your diabetes is well managed, and to address any concerns or questions you may have about your health.