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Diabetes is a disorder that is characterized by an inability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin or effectively utilize the insulin produced by the body. Insulin is the hormone that is produced by the pancreas to metabolize sugar in the body, the sugar that is present in the food that you consume.
Diabetes is commonly classified into two types: Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
In Type 1 diabetes, the cells in the pancreas do not produce insulin in the required amounts; this disorder usually tends to occur in children. Type 2 diabetes generally occurs in people who are above 40 years of age; this type is characterized by an inability of the body to efficiently utilize the insulin produced by the pancreas.
How can diabetes affect your kidneys?
Too much glucose, also called sugar, in your blood from diabetes damages your kidneys’ filters. If the filters are damaged, a protein called albumin, which you need to stay healthy, leaks out of your blood and into your urine. Damaged kidneys do not do a good job of filtering wastes and extra fluid from your blood. The wastes and extra fluid build up in your blood and make you sick.
Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney disease. Diabetic kidney disease is the medical term for kidney disease caused by diabetes. Diabetic kidney disease affects both kidneys at the same time.
Signs of Kidney Disease in Patients with Diabetes
- Albumin/protein in the urine
- High blood pressure
- Ankle and leg swelling, leg cramps
- Going to the bathroom more often at night
- High levels of BUN and creatinine in blood
- Less need for insulin or antidiabetic medications
- Morning sickness, nausea and vomiting
- Weakness, paleness and anemia
What are the possible complications?
- End-stage kidney failure: If this occurs then you would need kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Cardiovascular diseases: Diabetics have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and peripheral arterial disease. If you have diabetes and diabetic kidney disease, your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases is increased further.
- High blood pressure: Kidney disease has a tendency to increase blood pressure. In addition, increased blood pressure has a tendency to make kidney disease worse. Treatment of high blood pressure is one of the main treatments of diabetic kidney disease.
What to do?
- It is essential to get your urine checked at least once every year to detect signs of kidney damage.
- Some other symptoms that you may experience are swelling in the ankles, weight gain and a rise in your blood pressure.
- The first step to treat kidney damage caused by diabetes is to get your blood sugar levels under control.
- You should also avoid consuming medications that can cause damage to the kidneys.
- A kidney transplant or dialysis may be advised if the damage to kidneys is significant. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a nephrologist.