Diabetes and Kidney Health: How is it Related?
Did you know that over 25% of people with Type 1 and/or Type 2 Diabetes will, at some point, the risks of suffering from kidney failure?
As we know, Diabetes is a disease whereby your body is not able to create or use enough insulin, a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in your blood. This results in high levels of blood sugar which can cause problems in many parts of the human body, including the kidney.
When Diabetes affects the kidney and prevents it from carrying out its functions then this condition is known as “Diabetic nephropathy”. Due to this condition, the kidney’s filtering system, to remove waste products and extra fluid from the body, gets damaged gradually. Thus, this can lead to kidney failure or end-stage kidney disease, a life-threatening condition that might require a patient to undergo dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Causes of Diabetic Nephropathy
A common medical complication in patients with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, Diabetic Nephropathy is caused when the blood vessels and other important cells in the kidney are damaged due to the disease.
The kidney consists of many clusters of tiny blood vessels, known as glomeruli, which are responsible for excreting waste from the blood. Over a period of time, this condition will stop the kidney from functioning normally, thus leading to serious conditions like kidney failure
If a person has been suffering from Diabetes for a long time, they have a greater chance of Diabetic Nephropathy. Other than that, patients with diabetes are more likely to develop kidney disease if they have high levels of-
- Blood pressure
- Blood glucose
The health of diabetic patients’ kidneys also depends on the lifestyle choices they make. Some of these lifestyle choices that present a greater risk of having Diabetic Nephropathy are-
- Not following a healthy diabetic diet plan
- Eating salty foods
- Not staying active
A person is also likely to develop Diabetic Nephropathy if he/she has had a medical history of cardiovascular disease or a family history of kidney disease.
Symptoms of Diabetic Nephropathy
There might not be any symptoms of Diabetic Nephropathy in the early stages, however, in the later stages you might notice the following signs.
- Abnormal blood pressure levels that are out of control
- Presence of protein in the urine
- Swelling of feet, ankles, hands or eyes
- An increased urge to urinate
- Decreased concentration levels
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Persistent itching
Patients with diabetic nephropathy may develop the following complications over the months or years.
- Fluid retention which might cause swelling in the arms and legs, high blood pressure levels, and/or pulmonary edema
- Increased levels of potassium in the blood
- Cardiovascular disease that could lead to stroke
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Foot sores, erectile dysfunction, diarrhea and other problems related to damaged nerves and blood vessels
- Complications during pregnancy that might present risks for the mother as well as the developing fetus
- Irreversible damage to your kidneys
To reduce the risks of developing diabetic nephropathy you need to do the following things.
- Keep your blood pressure levels or other medical conditions in check by carrying out regular tests with your doctor.
- Stop smoking as it can worsen any case of existing kidney damage.
- Treat your diabetes effectively
- Maintain a healthy weight
Damage to the kidney can get worse from diabetes over time. However, the steps mentioned above, as well as changes to lifestyle habits, can help to keep your kidneys healthy and help slow any damage. If you happen to notice any of the signs related to diabetic nephropathy it is important that you make an appointment with your doctor immediately.
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