Pronounced: die-a-BET-ik nuh-FROP-uh-thee
Diabetic nephropathy is kidney damage that occurs with diabetes. It is the job of the kidneys to:
Damage from diabetes can prevent the kidneys from working well. In some cases, this can lead to kidney failure.
Blood passes through small filters in the kidneys. Changes in the blood due to diabetes can cause damage to these filters. Blood sugar levels that are not well-controlled can have the greatest impact on the kidney filters.
Overtime the damage to the filters increases. The damaged filters cannot clean the blood properly and protein from the blood can leak into the urine. If left untreated, this can lead to kidney failure.
Factors that may increase your chance of diabetic nephropathy include:
High blood pressure also puts stress on your kidneys and increase your risk of kidney damage.
Symptoms may not appear until the kidney damage is very severe. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume they are due to kidney problems. Symptoms may be caused by other conditions.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include the following:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Treatment is aimed at preventing or slowing further kidney damage. It may involve lifestyle changes and medications. Your doctor will also work with you to help control your diabetes and blood pressure. This may help prevent further kidney damage.
Lifestyle changes that will help control your blood sugar and blood pressure include:
Your doctor may prescribe medicines to help control blood sugar. To help control your blood pressure and protect your kidneys, your doctor may prescribe:
If the damage to your kidneys progresses to kidney failure, you may need dialysis. Dialysis takes over for your kidneys. Blood passes out of your body into a machine. The machine filters waste out of the blood then pumps blood back to you.
If the kidney failure progresses you may eventually need a kidney transplant.
To help reduce your chances of getting diabetic nephropathy, take the following steps:
American Diabetes Association
National Kidney Foundation
Canadian Diabetes Association
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
American Academy of Family Physicians. Information from your family doctor: diabetic nephropathy. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Jul 1;72(01):100.
Diabetic nephropathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated February 2, 2013. Accessed March 4, 2013.
Diabetic nephropathy. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydocto.... Updated September 2010. Accessed March 4, 2013.
Living with diabetes: kidney disease (nephropathy). American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabete.... Accessed February 7, 2011.
Nephropathy in diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004;27 Suppl 1:S79-83.
Last reviewed February 2013 by Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 3/4/2013
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