Diabetes and Kidney Failure

Published: 22nd March 2012
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Patients suffering from Diabetes may develop kidney problems if they have persistent high level of glucose. This could lead to other complications as kidney filters waste in our body and excrete them through urine. If kidney is unable to work it could lead to waste deposition in the body and result in serious health complications. Diabetes is one of the most common causes of kidney diseases and kidney failure in the United States.

Due to non production of insulin in the body or lack of response from body to the produced insulin, Diabetes occurs. Insulin is a hormone produced in pancreas and maintains the sugar level in the body. Prolonged Diabetes could severely damage kidney and some patients may even suffer from kidney failure. kidney damage, which occurs due to Diabetes, is known as diabetic nephropathy.

Symptoms of kidney failure

Kidney problems take a long time in developing in patients with Diabetes. Patients with prolonged high sugar level are at higher risk. People suffering from diabetic kidney diseases or kidney failure may have following symptoms.

Patients may suffer oedema or swelling in the legs or face due to fluid retention.
Persistent fatigue may be another sign of kidney failure or damage.
One of the other common symptoms is persistent headache.
Nausea and vomiting may also indicate kidney damage in patients of Diabetes.
Patient will have high protein levels in the urine reported by their urine examination if they are suffering from diabetic kidney damage.
Development of Diabetic Kidney Problems

Diabetic kidney disease takes a long time in development. Some diabetic patients may have higher rate of kidney functions in earlier stage of their diabetes. As the kidney problems start, there is a blood protein albumin in the urine. It is known as micro albuminuria. With the advancement of the kidney problems the amount of protein increases in the urine and this state is known as macro albuminuria.

In advance stages kidney stops functioning and patient suffers kidney failure. Blood pressure also elevates with development of the kidney damage. It takes around 10 years to start kidney damage in patients of Diabetes.

Diagnosis of Diabetic Kidney Diseases

Diabetic nephropathy can be diagnosed by following tests-

Urine tests – An abnormally high level of protein in the urine is one of symptoms of development of kidney damage.
Blood pressure – prolonged high blood pressure also helps in development of kidney damage in patients of Diabetes.
Blood tests – Kidney functions could be measured by blood tests.
Biopsy – Biopsy can also reveal extent of kidney damage. It also determines kidney damage is due to Diabetes or not.
Kidney ultrasound – Kidney ultrasound can measure the size of the kidneys. Any narrowing or swelling in kidney could be detected through it.
Prevention of Diabetic Kidney Disease

Kidney damage or failure due to high sugar level could be prevented by regular urine examinations. As kidney damage starts patient’s urine tests show small amounts of protein in urine. A blood test also helps to detect the start of kidney damage. People who suffer kidney failure need kidney transplant or go for dialysis to maintain kidney function. Controlled blood sugar and blood pressure reduce risk of kidney problem. Patients with kidney problem need to take less or no protein in their diet. Measurement of A1C level twice a year and eGFR once a year also help in prevention of kidney failure due to Diabetes.

Treatment of Diabetic Kidney Failure

People who suffered from kidney failure due to Diabetes need dialysis or a kidney transplant. Earlier it was not counted as a safe option to get a patient of diabetic kidney failure for dialysis or kidney transplant. It was believed to be more dangerous than beneficial. But now there are better control measures for Diabetes hence, these processes have become safer. Survival rate of kidney transplant in patients of diabetic kidney failure is similar to non-diabetic patients of kidney failure. Dialysis is a short-term option to maintain kidney function. Doctors prescribe it to patients of kidney failure till they get kidney transplant.
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