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Diabetic Nephropathy - Who is at Risk of Acquiring it?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Sanjeev Behura 90% (14 ratings)
MBBS, MD - Medicine, DM - Nephrology
Nephrologist, Delhi  •  22 years experience
Diabetic Nephropathy - Who is at Risk of Acquiring it?

Diabetes is a lifestyle disease that is very prevalent in the current generation. According to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. The global prevalence of diabetes among adults over 18 years of age has risen from 4.7% to 8.5% from 1980 to 2014. Diabetes should not be taken lightly as it can affect other body organs besides the pancreas, such as the kidneys. Diabetic nephropathy refers to damage to your kidneys caused by diabetes, and may also lead to kidney failure in various cases.

Causes of diabetic nephropathy
Not everyone who suffers from diabetes will suffer from diabetic nephropathy. The main function of the kidneys is to filter waste from your blood. However, this is not always the case. Due to high a concentration of blood sugar caused by diabetes, several blood vessels in the kidney are destroyed, thereby, preventing the kidneys from carrying out its job. Over time, the kidneys may stop working altogether, resulting in kidney failure. If you are diabetic, the probability of you suffering from diabetic nephropathy will increase if you smoke or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Catching it early
Today, diabetic nephropathy is the leading cause of chronic kidney disease in the US and other western countries. Since the symptoms of this condition aren’t visible in its early stages, you need to undergo urine tests on a regular basis. If detected early, the effects of diabetic nephropathy can be reversed. Common symptoms of this disease include the following:

  • Swelling in legs and feet
  • Detection of albumin in urine
  • Decline in glomerular filtration rate (GFR)
  • Elevated arterial blood pressure

What are the treatment options?
Medication to lower the blood pressure is the most commonly prescribed form of treatment suggested by doctors to prevent or slow the damage to your kidneys. There are other lifestyle changes that you may have to undertake in order to keep a check on the condition:

  • Limit sugar intake and keep blood sugar levels within the target range
  • Exercise regularly and work towards keeping your heart healthy
  • Limit protein intake, as it could put extra pressure on your kidneys
  • Limit salt intake to control blood pressure
  • Quit smoking and drinking

Diabetes is an unfortunate condition to have to live with. But don’t let it bog you down! With these simple lifestyle changes and taking care of your general well-being, you can beat the disease and emerge a winner!

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