Diabetic Nephropathy: All You Need to Know about Living with Kidney Disease

Diabetic Nephropathy

What is Diabetic Nephropathy?

Diabetic nephropathy, also known as diabetic kidney disease, is a complication related to diabetes and a leading cause of kidney failure. It is usually caused by uncontrolled high blood sugar levels due to long-term diabetic organ damage. Persistent damage to the filters of the kidney will cause an aberrant accumulation of fluid and waste to be trapped in the body, leading to chronic kidney failure.

Signs & Symptoms of Diabetic Nephropathy

There are no symptoms in diabetic nephropathy in the early stages. This means that it is difficult to detect in the initial stages. As the disease advances, some of the common symptoms include:

  • High blood pressure – consistently high blood pressure can indicate a problem with the kidneys
  • Edema– Swelling around the eyes and ankles due to an abnormal accumulation of fluid retention
  • Urination changes– increased urination or a change in the color, quantity or smell of the urine
  • Fatigue– feeling more exhausted compared to usual

Diagnosing Diabetic Nephropathy

Here are some of the tests your doctor may use to diagnose diabetic nephropathy:

  • Urine Tests– checking for glucose, protein or kidney damage in the urine.
  • Blood Tests– checking for creatinine or other waste products which can indicate kidney damage. This test also looks for high levels of electrolytes indicating kidney disease.
  • Kidney Biopsy– a tiny piece of kidney tissue is taken and studied under a microscope to determine if there is any damage.
  • Imaging Tests– like an ultrasound or CT scan, imaging tests can be used to check for changes in the structure of the kidney.

Living with Diabetic Nephropathy

Living with diabetic nephropathy can be difficult and requires close monitoring of your blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

Manage Your Diet:

Your diet plays an important role in managing diabetic nephropathy. Here are some tips to help you keep your nephropathy in check:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat low-sodium, low-fat, and low-sugar foods
  • Limit your intake of processed foods
  • Watch how much protein you eat

Stay Active and Exercise:

Exercise can help to regulate your blood sugar levels and can help reduce inflammation. Some of the best physical activities to try include walking, swimming, cycling, and low-impact aerobics.

Manage Stress:

Stress can cause an increase in your blood sugar levels, so it’s important to learn ways to manage it. This can include yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.


Diabetic nephropathy is a serious condition and can cause serious organ damage in the long run. It’s important to manage it through proper diet, exercise, and stress management. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with diabetic nephropathy, it’s important to talk to a doctor about it and to follow the doctor’s advice and any treatment that is prescribed.

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