Diabetic Nephropathy (Diabetic Kidney Disease)

What is Diabetic Nephropathy?

Diabetic nephropathy is not to be confused with diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic nephropathy is kidney damage or disease, and it can strike those with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

The kidneys filter bodily waste from the bloodstreamusing groups of tiny blood vessels called glomeruli. Uncontrolled blood sugar, high cholesterol, hypertension, anemia, smoking and obesity significantly raise the risk ofdeveloping diabetic nephropathy. Damage to the glomerulican greatly reduce or haltkidney function. However, when diagnosed early the damage may be reversible.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Nephropathy?

There are no signs or symptoms in the very early stages of diabetic nephropathy. It is very important for diabetics to have regular testing to check for protein in the urine. As kidney function worsens symptoms will develop.

Symptoms include

  • Swelling, especially in the feet and legs
  • Leg cramps
  • Protein (albumin) in the urine
  • High blood urea nitrogen levels
  • High levels of serum creatinine
  • Hypertension
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Itchy skin
  • Anemia
  • Pallor
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced need for diabetes meds or insulin

How is Diabetic Nephropathy Treated?

It is of the utmost importance to treat and control medical conditions that contribute to diabetic nephropathy.

Treatment includes

  • Heart-healthy, low-sodium, low-protein diet plan
  • Weight monitoring
  • Regular exercise
  • Control and maintenance of blood glucose levels
  • High blood pressure medication
  • Cessation of tobacco products
  • Anemia treatment
Last Reviewed:
September 20, 2016
Last Updated:
September 06, 2017