Diabetic Nephropathy: Symptoms and how to prevent kidney damage in people with Diabetes
The first sign is protein in the urine, which causes blood protein levels (albumin) to decrease and causes the body to retain more fluids causing weight gain, edema (swelling) of the feet, increased blood pressure and frequent urination at night.
Then, over time, BUN and creatinine levels increase, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, fatigue, itchiness, anemia and muscle cramps (especially on the feet) occur.
Prevention of kidney diseases should be a priority for anyone with Diabetes. Given that diabetic nephropathy has been proved irreversible, researchers and doctors focus more on preventing the disease.
How to prevent kidney damage in people with Diabetes?
Controlling blood glucose levels
Many researchers have shown that kidney disease is directly related to certain abnormal metabolic processes, caused by elevated blood glucose levels. The DCCT (Diabetes Control and Complications Trial), proved that keeping blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible, almost completely reduces the possibility of Nephropathy.
If a patient with Diabetes is also hypertensive, hypertension should be very well controlled by following these recommendations:
- Diabetes Control: Effectively control blood glucose levels helps reduce hypertension.
- Weight Management: Being overweight or obese raise blood pressure. Maintaining an ideal weight is important for proper control of Diabetes and hypertension.
- Exercise: Regular exercise has been shown to help maintain lower blood pressure, but, obviously, when you begin to exercise it must be done following a plan prescribed by your doctor.
- Low-salt diet: Salt makes the body retain more water, raising blood pressure.
- Antihypertensive medicine: There are many medicines that help control blood pressure such as beta blockers, alpha blockers, diuretics and ACE inhibitors. According to recent research it is thought that angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) also help delay progression of diabetic nephropathy and Angiotensin II antagonists have been proven to reverse kidney damage in its initial stage (microalbuminuria).
Controlling urinary tract infections
The direct connection between the urinary tract and kidneys, implies that germs from any infection can affect the kidneys. Immediate treatment for any urinary tract infection should be a priority.
UTI Symptoms are:
- Pain or burning when urinating.
- Frequent need to urinate.
- Cloudy urine.
- Blood in the urine.
- Fever or pain in the lower back.
Performing medical examinations periodically
Through blood and urine tests, doctors can know how your kidneys are working. Low urine protein levels (microalbuminuria) are a sign that your kidneys aren’t working perfectly; taking all necessary measures immediately could reverse the damage and prevent Proteinuria (high urine protein levels); in this case, the goal is to delay the moment when the kidneys stop functioning (Terminal CKD).
Nephropathy begins with proteinuria and at that moment the disease is already irreversible. That’s why it’s so important for every patient with Diabetes, to get blood and urine tests frequently.
Remember that you can prevent diabetic nephropathy if you exercises good control over your Diabetes and follow these recommendations. This will allow you to enjoy an excellent quality of life.