What is diabetic Nephropathy?
Diabetic nephropathy is a complication in the kidney where its task to filter the blood is severely compromised. Left untreated, kidney disease degenerates into chronic kidney disease and ultimately may lead to a total kidney failure.
In order to better understand this complication, it would be worthwhile to understand the job performed by kidneys in the human body. One of the two chief tasks of kidneys is to clean the blood through tiny blood vessels which act as filters, separating waste products from useful molecules like red blood cells. The waste products are subsequently ejected from the body as part of urine. The other regulatory job performed by kidneys is to maintain salt and water balance in the human body.
Diabetes sabotages this bodily process of filtration as inflated levels of glucose in the blood cause the kidneys to filter blood beyond the usual amount. As a consequence, the blood vessels in the kidneys swell up. The swelling and choking up of filters make the kidneys leak, thereby compromising its ability to cleanse the blood.
Symptoms of Diabetic Nephropathy
One of the most distinctive features of diabetic kidney disease is the lack of any felt and visible symptoms, thereby making it hard to detect. Detection is possible only through a set of urine and blood tests. Since damaged kidneys cause leakage of protein into urine, doctors determine the existence of diabetic nephropathy by looking for protein levels in urine samples. In conjunction, they carry out a series of blood tests to determine the performance level of kidneys.
Preventing and Controlling Diabetic Nephropathy
The probability of diabetic kidney disease is influenced in large measure by an individual's lifestyle choices as well as genetics. For example, individuals with elevated blood glucose levels, smoking habits, and excess weight have a higher chance of acquiring this disease. Likewise, individuals with a family history of kidney disease or high blood pressure also run a higher than normal risk of suffering this ailment.
The first line of defense against acquiring this disease involves making careful and substantial changes to your lifestyle. To begin with, diabetes patients should take precautionary measures to ensure their blood glucose levels do not go beyond the prescribed range, especially for extended durations.
Equally importantly, diabetes patients should monitor their blood pressure levels and do their utmost to prevent it from going beyond 140/80. This can be achieved by making healthy lifestyle decisions including monitoring your salt intake, your weight, and abandoning smoking. Apart from lifestyle changes, medications such as angiotensin receptor blocker or related drugs can be notably helpful as they suppress protein levels in urine while keeping blood pressure in check.
While lifestyle changes and proper medications can significantly control or outright prevent diabetic nephropathy, patients should take care to periodically have their urine and blood samples checked. Since this disease sets in without obvious symptoms, constant monitoring on the part of patients assumes importance.