What is diabetic nephropathy?
kidney disease or damage. Diabetic nephropathy is damage to your kidneys caused
diabetes. In severe cases it can lead to kidney
failure. But not everyone with diabetes has kidney damage.
What causes diabetic nephropathy?
The kidneys have
many tiny blood vessels that filter waste from your blood. High blood sugar
from diabetes can destroy these blood vessels. Over time, the kidney isn't able
to do its job as well. Later it may stop working completely. This is called
For reasons doctors don't yet understand, only
some people who have diabetes get kidney damage. Out of 100 people with diabetes,
as many as 40 will get kidney damage.1
Certain things make you more likely to get diabetic nephropathy. If you
high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or if you smoke, your risk is
higher. Also, Native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics (especially
Mexican Americans) have a higher risk.2
What are the symptoms?
There are no symptoms in
the early stages. So it’s important to have regular urine tests to find kidney
damage early. Sometimes early kidney damage can be reversed.
first sign of kidney damage is a small amount of protein in the urine, which is
found by a simple urine test.
As damage to the kidneys gets worse,
your blood pressure rises. Your
triglyceride levels rise too. As your kidneys are less
able to do their job, you may notice swelling in your body, at first in your
feet and legs.
How is diabetic nephropathy diagnosed?
is diagnosed using simple tests that check for a protein called
albumin in the urine. Urine does not usually contain
protein. But in the early stages of kidney damage-before you have any
symptoms-some protein may be found in your urine, because your kidneys aren't
able to filter it out the way they should.
Finding kidney damage
early can keep it from getting worse. So it’s important for people with
diabetes to have regular testing.
- If you have type 1 diabetes, get a urine test
every year after you have had diabetes for 5 years.
- If your child
has diabetes, yearly testing should begin when your child is 10 years old and has had diabetes for 5 years.
- If you have
type 2 diabetes, start yearly testing at the time you are diagnosed with
How is it treated?
The main treatment is medicine
to lower your blood pressure and prevent or slow the damage to your kidneys.
These medicines include:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors,
also called ACE inhibitors.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers, also
You may need to take more than one medicine, especially
if you also have high blood pressure.