Diabetic Kidney Damage or Nephropathy

What is Nephropathy?

The Kidneys like many other of the bodies organs are susceptible to damage when the small blood vessels that normally filter waste from the blood get blocked or damaged. Nephropathy is the medical term for Kidney damage.

When these small blood vessels (capilleries) get damaged they -

  • Fail to remove waste efficiently from the blood.
  • Leak protein from the blood into the urine.
Gradual loss of Kidney functions follow which may lead to - fatigue, weakness, insomnia, vomiting, and fluid retention causing swelling typically around the ankles and feet.

Ultimately Kidney Damage can lead to complete Kidney failure.

Testing for Nephropathy

The first sign of kidney damage is an increase in the amount of protein (microalbuminuria) in the urine.

Monitoring of protein levels gives an early warning of kidney damage caused by diabetes.

Note however that raised protein levels can have other causes such as repeated Kidney infection and other conditions

Protein Early Warning Levels (Albumin)

  • Men above 2.5mmol/l
  • Women above 3.5mmol/l

    In US units of mg/dl

  • Men above 30 mg/dl
  • Women above 40mg/dl

These are tested using a fasting (pre-breakfast) sample of urine.

Minimising the Risks

Other factors also increase the risks of developing Nephropathy. Two of these factors are gender (males have an increased risk) and hereditary.

Treatments for Nephropathy

Treatments for Nephropathy aim to slow the progression of the damage. Treatments aim to -
  • Limit the amount of protein in the diet.
  • Lower the amount of Sodium in the diet to reduce blood pressure.
  • Keep blood pressure low and protect the Kidney by drug treatment such as ACE inhibitor or angiotensin-II.

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