Diabetic kidney disease is a common complication with both Type I and Type II diabetes. Most diabetics, both controlled and uncontrolled, have some form of kidney damage or will develop it throughout the course of diabetes. The exact cause of kidney deterioration isn’t known, but research has been able to confirm that it has something to do with the extra work that kidneys have to do when high blood sugar levels are present. Deterioration may be caused by blood sugar passing through the kidneys, but current studies suggest that it is actually from overwork of the glucose receptors in diabetics.
Overview of Diabetic Kidney Disease
Over time, most therapies for Type II diabetes will result in kidney deterioration. While these therapies are not necessarily directly responsible for diabetic kidney disease, they fail to correct the problems that cause diabetic kidney disease in the first place. Newer therapies that work directly on glucose receptors in the kidney may be an answer to this problem, but as of 2011 no long-term studies have been done on these new drugs.
Kidney complications with diabetes can be slowed or prevented with successful insulin replacement therapies, though a relatively low percentage of diabetics achieve the blood sugar control necessary to avoid any kidney damage at all. Uncontrolled diabetics or those with unaddressed renal issues may eventually go into end-stage renal failure, necessitating dialysis and possibly kidney transplant.
Detecting Diabetic Kidney Disease
In most cases, diabetic kidney disease does not have any outward symptoms. In fact, many diabetics can live for years without further complications, though during that time the kidney will continue to deteriorate if the problem isn’t addressed. Doctors perform routine urinalysis tests during checkups for all patients, primarily to test for excessive protein in the urine. These tests, occasionally in addition to some others for kidney function, are done more often when someone is diabetic, has high blood pressure, or is considered high-risk for any reason.
Cautionary Signs Diabetics Should Look For
As a rule, diabetic kidney disease does not have any outward symptoms. In fact, it is possible for someone to live with diabetic kidney disease for years without ever realizing their kidneys are deteriorating. This is why it’s imperative to go in for regular exams and to make sure that kidney function is routinely tested. By the time symptoms show, there could be excessive, irreversible damage to the kidneys. A couple of signs that may indicate diabetic kidney disease include foaming urine and edema. Specifically, the swelling is most likely to show up in the hands, feet, abdomen, and face.
Diabetic kidney disease is extremely common among diabetics at all stages, and without proper detection and management the disease could continue to worsen until the kidneys fail completely. Routine checkups can help prevent the disease from progressing to that point, and may even be able to detect kidney deterioration early enough to repair some damage.