Diabetic Nephropathy

Diabetic Nephropathy


Diabetic nephropathy is a serious complication of type 1 & 2 diabetes. Diabetic nephropathy affects the kidneys’ ability to filter waste from the blood stream. About 25% of patients with diabetes develop diabetic nephropathy. Diabetic nephropathy could progress to kidney failure or end-stage disease.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of diabetic nephropathy include high levels of protein in the urine, swelling of the hands, feet and ankles, frequent urination, difficulty concentrating, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.

Causes and Risk Factors

Diabetic nephropathy occurs when the tissues of the kidneys are damaged by diabetes. This is usually due to high sugars and high blood pressure which damages the delicate capillaries in the kidneys where filtration of the blood occurs. Patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension and high blood cholesterol have a higher risk of diabetic nephropathy. Smoking also increases the risk of diabetic nephropathy.


Diabetic nephropathy could cause numerous complications that develop slowly over time. The potential complications include fluid retention that could lead to a dangerous build-up of fluid in the lungs, anaemia, foot sores, erectile dysfunction, cardiovascular diseases like stroke and diabetic retinopathy.


If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, the doctor will likely recommend regular urine and blood tests to screen for kidney damage. This includes a microalbuminuria urine test, BUN blood test and serum creatinine blood tests. If these tests provide evidence of kidney damage, the doctor may also need to perform a kidney biopsy.


Diabetic nephropathy has no cure, but medication and lifestyle changes can help delay the progression of the disease. If caught early, oral medications to control high blood pressure, fluid retention and high blood sugar may be sufficient. If the condition has progressed to end-stage kidney disease, the patient will require regular dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant surgery.


To prevent diabetic nephropathy, take steps to keep your blood pressure and blood sugar levels within the normal range.

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