January 20, 2022

Diabetic kidney disease

Mesogeios Dialysis Centers Group,  the largest network of high quality Dialysis Units throughout Greece, informs us about one of the most common forms of kidney diseases; diabetes. One of the main causes for a patient to undergo dialysis. 

What is diabetic kidney disease and when does it occur? 

Diabetic kidney disease is one of the most serious complications of diabetes. It is a progressive kidney disease, which develops in about 30% of patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In Greece, epidemiological data indicate that 8% to 9% of the population suffers from diabetes, while a percentage of the order 4% of patients do not know they are ill. 

Diabetic kidney disease occurs 10 to 15 years after the onset of the disease, with small amounts of albumin appearing in the urine 5 to 10 years before severe kidney damage. In the event of greater kidney damage, the patient will lose more protein in the urine, while the damage will continue to worsen until the onset of renal failure. Gradually impaired renal function and the removal of waste and excess body fluids and renal failure occurs. 

The stages, causes and symptoms of the disease 

The course of diabetic kidney disease is divided into 5 stages, depending on the severity and progression of the disease. The earlier diabetes is diagnosed, the more effective is to treat and, of course, the chances of avoiding complications increase. Thus, in the first (1st) stage the function of the kidneys can be restored, while in the fifth (5th) and final stage dialysis or kidney transplantation is required. 

As for the causes of the disease, diabetic kidney disease is mainly associated with inadequate blood sugar control in both type 1 and type 2 diabetics. However, the exact cause of kidney damage has not been determined. In any case, the increased risk factors for the onset of the disease are hyperglycemia, hypertension, smoking and obesity, while age, sex and genetic predisposition also play an important role. 

As for the symptoms of diabetic kidney disease, however, due to the latent form of the disease they do not manifest immediately. However, over time the following appear: 

  • Worsening of hypertension 
  • Protein in the urine 
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles, hands or eyes 
  • Increased need to urinate 
  • Reduced need for insulin 
  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating 
  • Breathing difficulty 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Persistent itching 
  • Fatigue 

The treatment and prevention of diabetic kidney disease 

How do we deal with diabetic kidney disease? Are there options and ways to prevent the onset of the disease? 

Diabetic kidney disease can be treated if it is early diagnosed. Early detection of protein in the urine and appropriate treatment can reduce or eliminate the risk of developing kidney disease. Depending on the stage of its development, taking medication, but also changing the patient’s eating habits and lifestyle can lead to delay or termination of the disease. 

In any case, regular monitoring of diabetic patients is necessary so that the doctor can proceed in time to treat a possible kidney damage and prevent its progression. Some important factors in preventing diabetic kidney disease are a regular blood sugar control, blood pressure control, weight loss, treatment of hyperlipidemia, smoking cessation, reduced protein (meat), sodium and alcohol intake, exercise.