The kidney disease caused by diabetes is called diabetic nephropathy. It is a chronic, progressive disease that develops in one-third of people with diabetes. High blood glucose levels affect the small vessels throughout the body and also those that are part of the kidneys. When these small vessels or capillaries are damaged, they do not function properly and their function, filtration, is affected. Toxic products can then accumulate in the blood, at the same time that other necessary substances such as proteins are eliminated by the urine in an inadequate way. If this progresses, we can reach a complete loss of kidney function, stopping the filtration process.
Evolution of the disease
The first specific indication that kidney alterations are occurring is the presence of a protein called albumin in small amounts in the urine. This alerts us to the possibility that the small blood vessels that feed the kidneys may be damaged if we do not act. There are drugs that can prevent and reverse kidney damage in the early stages.
In addition to diabetes, especially when poorly controlled, risk factors for kidney disease are smoking, high blood pressure and family history of kidney disease.
In the early stages of kidney damage, hypertension can be treated, glucose control can be improved, and drugs specific to the diabetic’s kidney disease can be administered. If kidney damage progresses and renal failure progresses, we may need treatment with techniques to replace the function of our kidneys, such as dialysis and transplantation.
Overweight and a sedentary lifestyle are modifiable factors that can clearly influence the onset of diabetes in predisposed individuals. Therefore, these are two clear factors that can be prevented.