By Dr. Parveez Siddiqui, Internal Medicine
Nephropathy is also known as renal disease. It is any type of damage or disease relating to the kidneys. Though not everyone with diabetes has nephropathy, however, diabetic nephropathy can cause kidney failure.
How does diabetes affect the kidney?
Kidneys are responsible for taking the waste out from your blood. They have a lot of tiny blood vessels to do this. High blood sugar may kill such blood vessels. Once these blood vessels are destroyed, the kidneys may not function as well or it may even lead to kidney failure.
What increases your risk of getting diabetic nephropathy?
There are several factors which increase your risk of getting diabetic nephropathy including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Being Native American, African American or of Hispanic origin, for whom risk factors have proved to be magnified
- If you have a family history of diabetic nephropathy
Symptoms and diagnosis:
There are very few noticeable symptoms, which appear when you have diabetic nephropathy, except swelling in your arms and legs. The diagnosis is done by checking for a type of protein in your urine known as albumin, which is not supposed to be there. Getting the diagnosis done early is crucial.
You can prevent kidney damage by doing the following:
- Keeping your blood sugar levels under control – keep HbA1C < 6-7%
- Keeping your blood pressure under control in the range of 130/80
- Eating healthy food
- Exercising regularly
- Not eating too much protein
- Not eating too much salt
- Reducing smoke or excessive tobacco usage
Medicines for treatment:
If you do get diabetic nephropathy, here are some medicines, which can help cure it
- ACE inhibitors which are also called angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
- Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
- Blood pressure may rise
- Triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels may rise.