An extremely common condition affecting approximately one in four adults with diabetes, diabetic nephropathy, also called diabetic kidney disease, impacts the body’s ability to manage the task of filtering and removing waste products and extra fluid. Misdiagnosed or left untreated, over time diabetic nephropathy may progress to kidney failure, resigning you to dialysis until you can find a donor’s kidney. If you have diabetes or are showing symptoms of diabetic nephropathy, it’s best to seek medical attention right away. Here’s what you need to know about diabetic nephropathy.
Having long-standing or a history of poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes mellitus are the most common risk factors for developing dysgenic nephropathy. However, there are other factors that put you at higher risk; they include uncontrolled hypertension and/or poor control of blood glucose, current or previous use of tobacco, and a family history of diabetes or diabetic nephropathy.
Symptoms of Diabetic Nephropathy
Diabetic nephropathy may be asymptomatic in its earliest stages. However, the following symptoms may be a sign that your kidneys are starting to weaken. Signs and symptoms of diabetic nephropathy to look out for include —
- Worsening blood pressure control as well as the inability to keep it stable
- Edema or swelling in the feet, ankles, hands and/or eyes
- Increased need to urinate, especially at night
- Itchy skin
- Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and/or headaches
Diagnosing Diabetic Nephropathy
If you have diabetes or are presenting any of the above risk factors or symptoms, your doctor should be testing your albumin levels at your annual check-ups, and immediately after a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. Your doctor likely will order medical imaging of the kidneys – most often an ultrasonography to check for any obstructions, infections, kidney stones or kidney disease. To ensure a complete and proper diagnosis and effective treatment, you should now be seeing or be referred to a nephrologist.
Treating Diabetic Nephropathy
The goal of treatment is to eliminate controllable risk factors and slow the progression of the disease while under the watchful care of your primary care doctor and a doctor who specializes in nephropathy. Expect to incorporate lifestyle changes that include reducing salt intake, losing weight, and quitting smoking. Also expect to be placed on ACE inhibitors to slow the progression of kidney disease as well as to lower blood pressure.
Advanced diabetic nephropathy can also increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Should the condition worsen to the point that the kidneys start to fail, you may be placed on hemodialysis or require a kidney transplant.
Kidney Care in Greater Boston
Not everyone who has diabetes goes on to have diabetic nephropathy, however, other medical conditions such as hypertension, electrolyte disorders and kidney stones can also have long-term effects on your kidneys and general health. If you are diabetic or have a kidney condition, it’s time to see a nephrologist. At Commonwealth Nephrology Associates, our kidney experts are known for their aggressive approach to reducing chronic kidney disease and improving outcomes. And with seven offices conveniently located throughout greater Boston, there is world-class kidney care near you. Don’t wait another day. Call Commonwealth Nephrology Associates at (617) 739-2100 or request an appointment online to receive the best kidney care available.