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Kidney Damage Due to Diabetes

The news is bad enough when your doctor tells you that you have been diagnosed with diabetes. It is even worse when you realize that this diagnosis does not end there. With it comes a series or complications, one of which is kidney damage.

Nephropathy is the medical term for kidney damage. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that approximately “43 percent of new cases of end-stage renal disease (kidney failure) are due to diabetes.” How is this damage diagnosed? It can be detected through urine test which may show small amounts of protein.

It is important to understand how the kidneys work, and why this presence of protein is so critical to diagnosis. Our kidneys are very vital organs to our bodies; they are the body’s filter units. They rid our bodies of toxins which the body makes or takes in. The walls of the small blood vessels along the border of the kidneys are called capillaries. Toxins from the blood enter the kidneys by crossing these capillaries.

In patients with nephropathy, the capillaries are unable to filter out the impurities in the blood. The capillaries begin to leak, and some of the waste products which normally should be removed, remain in the blood, while some of the proteins and nutrients which should remain in the blood, get lost in the urine.

Once you develop diabetes, there may be an excess of protein in the urine; so already this disease is like a double-edged sword. The protein in the urine is usually a temporary condition however. According to the ADA, ‘unchecked hypertension and a period of hyperglycemia before diagnosis could contribute to this condition.” The ADA claims that “the more obvious symptoms of kidney disease take a long time to appear.”

The good news is that not everyone with diabetes will develop nephropathy. As a matter of fact, it is more common in people with type 1 diabetes than it is in those with type 2 diabetes. Nevertheless, as I mentioned in the beginning of this article, with the diagnosis of diabetes, comes a series of complications. One of these is high blood pressure, and kidney damage can also result from this condition. Many people with type 2 diabetes do have hypertension. There is more good news: there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of nephropathy, just like there are steps you can take to control diabetes.

The most important treatment for both the diabetes and the kidney damage is to closely monitor blood glucose levels and keep them close to normal. It is also critically important to keep your blood pressure in the target range. Keeping a healthy body weight, and eating less salt will help to control the condition. Your doctor will also recommend ACE inhibitors or ARBs which are blood pressure medications that lower blood pressure and preserve kidney function.