Kidney Damage From Diabetes and High Blood Pressure

Kidney damage from diabetes is called diabetic nephropathy. When there are high levels of blood glucose, it makes the kidneys filter too much blood. All this extra work is hard on the filters. After many years, they start to leak and useful protein is lost in the urine.

When diabetes occurs, the small blood vessels in the body are injured. When the blood vessels in the kidneys are injured, the kidneys cannot clean the blood properly. The body retains more water and salt than it should, which can result in weight gain. This also results in the building up of protein in urine and waste in the blood. Having protein in the urine is called microalbuminuria.

High blood glucose, also called blood sugar, can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys. When the blood vessels are damaged, they don’t work as well. Many people with diabetes also develop high blood pressure, which can further damage the kidneys.

High blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the kidneys, reducing their ability to work properly. When the force of blood flow is high, blood vessels stretch so that blood flows more easily. Eventually, this stretching scars and weakens the blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the kidneys. If the kidneys’ blood vessels are damaged, they may stop removing wastes and extra fluid from the body. Extra fluid in the blood vessels may then raise the blood pressure even more, creating a dangerous cycle.

Diabetes sometimes causes damage to the nerves in the body. This can cause difficulty in urinating. The pressure resulting from a full bladder can back up and injure the kidneys even. Also, if urine remains in the bladder for a long time, one can develop an infection from the rapid growth of bacteria in urine that has a high sugar level.

Diabetes is a disease that can really damage this system. When kidney disease is diagnosed early, during microalbuminuria, several treatments may help keep the kidney disease from getting worse. Having larger amounts of protein in the urine is called macroalbuminuria. When kidney disease is caught later during macroalbuminuria, end-stage renal disease, or ESRD, usually follows.

Symptoms, Treatment and Diagnosis

Symptoms of chronic kidney disease vary greatly and can include: the need to urinate frequently, especially at night; swelling of the legs and puffiness around the eyes, high blood pressure, fatigue and weakness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, itching and easy bruising, shortness of breath, headaches, sleep problems, restless legs syndrome, chest pain, bleeding, bone pain, decreased interest in sex and erectile dysfunction.

However, the condition begins long before one has any symptoms. People with diabetes should get regular screenings for kidney disease. Tests include a urine test to detect protein in the urine and a blood test to show how well the kidneys are working.

If the damage continues, the kidneys could fail completely. In fact, diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure in the United States. People with kidney failure need either life-long dialysis or a kidney transplant.

One can slow down kidney damage or keep it from getting worse. Controlling blood sugar and blood pressure, taking medicines as prescribed and not eating too much protein can help.