Diabetic Nephropathy: what it is and how to treat it

Diabetic nephropathy is damage to the kidneys caused by high blood glucose levels. It can affect any diabetic patient with significant hyperglycemia. The main treatment involves controlling blood glucose, blood pressure and lipids in order to avoid advanced stages of the disease requiring transplantation or dialysis.

Diabetic nephropathy: what it is

Diabetic nephropathy is caused by the damage that maintaining high levels of glucose in the blood can cause to the kidneys. This produces a series of structural and functional changes causing loss of filtering capacity and causing them to fail.

Patients suffering from diabetic nephropathy

Diabetic Nephropathy occurs both in type 1 Diabetes, also known as juvenile or insulin-dependent, and in type 2, called adult, and also in other secondary forms of Diabetes Mellitus where there is prolongation of diabetes with significant levels of hyperglycemia. There are known risk factors that are directly related to its onset and progression, in addition to poor glycemic control:
– age
– poor blood pressure control
– genetic susceptibility
– obesity
– smoking

Symptoms of diabetic nephropathy

Often the initial symptom of diabetic nephropathy is the accumulation of fluid (edema) in declining areas of the body. There may also be loss of sleep, loss of appetite, general weakness, headache, nausea, vomiting, higher than usual blood pressure and there may also be cases of foamy urine.

Treatment of diabetic nephropathy

The mainstay of nephrology treatment for diabetic nephropathy disease is the control of blood glucose (blood sugar), blood pressure and lipid profile (blood fats). This can be achieved with lifestyle modifications, such as:
– dietary changes
– taking medications correctly
– readjustment of diabetes therapy (if necessary)
– treatment and control of urinary tract infections or other infections that need to be treated with antibiotics.

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In general, the results are effective with such treatment. It depends on the stage at which the disease is diagnosed, to try to minimize kidney damage and/or slow the progression of the disease to more advanced stages requiring kidney transplantation or dialysis and also to avoid complications in other organs of the body.