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Anatomy of the Kidney  
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Definition  

Diabetic nephropathy is kidney damage that occurs with diabetes. It is the job of the kidneys to:

  • Filter blood
  • Catch needed substances and return them to circulation
  • Create urine to pass waste out of the body

Damage from diabetes can prevent the kidneys from working well. In some cases, this can lead to kidney failure .

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Causes  

Blood passes through small filters in the kidneys. Changes in the blood vessels due to diabetes can cause damage to these filters. Blood sugar levels that are not well-controlled can have the greatest impact on the kidney filters.

Over time, the damage to the filters increases. The damaged filters cannot clean the blood properly and protein from the blood can leak into the urine. If left untreated, this can lead to kidney failure.

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Risk Factors  

Factors that may increase your chance of diabetic nephropathy include Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes with:

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Symptoms  

Symptoms may not appear until the kidney damage is severe. Symptoms may include:

  • Fluid buildup may appear as swelling in feet or hands
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Confusion and trouble concentrating
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Diagnosis  

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
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Treatment  

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.

Treatment is aimed at preventing or slowing further kidney damage. It may involve lifestyle changes and medications. Your doctor will also work with you to help control your diabetes and blood pressure. This may help prevent further kidney damage.

Lifestyle Changes  

Lifestyle changes that will help control your blood sugar and blood pressure include: