In previous articles we've talked about how high blood glucose can affect the eyes, feet and blood pressure. In this article we will focus on how high blood glucose damages the kidneys and what you can do to prevent this damage.
Persistent high blood glucose (sugar) can damage the kidneys and lead to a condition called nephropathy. About a quarter of people with diabetes may develop nephropathy. If detected early, the condition can be treated successfully.
What causes Diabetic Nephropathy?
The kidney is effectively one large filter for the body and has the job of removing waste products from the blood. As blood flows through the blood vessels within the kidneys, waste products filter out through small holes in the blood vessels. The waste becomes a part of the urine. Useful substances such as protein are too big to filter through and then stay in the blood.
High blood glucose levels (sugar) lead to the kidneys filtering too much blood. The result of this is that the blood vessels walls became thickened and form leaks. The kidneys are unable to filter waste products out of the blood into the urine properly and useful substances such as protein are lost in the urine.
Symptoms of Diabetic Nephropathy
There are no obvious symptoms of nephropathy in the early stages. This makes regular testing very important to detect the condition. If left untreated, the body will lose a lot of protein in the urine and this can lead to water retention or oedema, especially around the ankles. Sometimes the condition may result in the kidneys being unable to remove waste products from the body.
In such a situation you would need dialysis or a transplant. Testing for nephropathy can often be done using a urine dipstick such as Albustix, which will show if there is any protein present in the urine.
How you can prevent this damage
The best way to prevent nephropathy is by keeping a tight control of your blood glucose levels and your blood pressure. High blood pressure has a big effect on the kidneys and can exacerbate or contribute to nephropathy. Monitoring your blood glucose and blood pressure will help you spot when your levels are too high and allow you to take action.
Treatment of Diabetic Nephropathy
Treatment of nephropathy usually involves dietary changes, restricting the amount of protein in the diet, and controlling high blood pressure, which can worsen the problem. Treatment may also involve taking drugs such as ACE inhibitors. In worse case scenario dialogue or implant may be needed.
The most important thing to remember is to make sure you have your urine tested for protein at least once a year.
Now you've read our article on diabetes and kidneys we would recommend you read our article on diabetes and blood pressure. As mentioned in this article high blood pressure can damage the kidneys so it is an important article to read. Visit our site to read this article and many more.