Diabetes Kidney Failure: Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

Updated on 8 November 2022

Diabetic nephropathy refers to a severe complication associated with Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes. Due to this cause, it is often termed diabetic kidney disease. Generally, diabetes affect the kidneys which affects your kidneys' capacity to carry out their normal functioning to remove wastes and surplus fluid from the body. The ideal method of preventing or delaying diabetic nephropathy is a healthy lifestyle along with properly managing diabetes as well as hypertension. 

Over the course of time, this condition will slowly damage the delicate filtration system of a patient's kidneys. Obviously, early detection and treatment can slow down or even prevent the progress of the disease while simultaneously reducing the chances of complications. Such kidney diseases often end in acute kidney failure, which is a serious condition. In case the patient is already in this stage, the only ways to treat them are either dialysis or a transplant.

Symptoms of Diabetes Kidney Failure

In the mild stages of the disease, most patients do not find any noticeable signs or symptoms. However, with increasing severity, the diabetes and kidney failure symptoms include,

  • Deteriorating BP control
  • Protein passing through urine
  • Swollen feet, ankles, eyes, or hands
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Reduced requirement of insulin and medications
  • Foggy mind and lack of concentration 
  • Breathing problems 
  • Decreasing appetite
  • Feeling nauseated 
  • Continuous itching
  • Tiredness and fatigue

With declining kidney function, multiple other problems will develop. This may include anaemia and an imbalance of other micronutrients in the body. These result in a number of symptoms, like tiredness and or weak bones.

Causes of Diabetes and Kidney Failure

Diabetic nephropathy is caused when diabetes starts to damage blood vessels as well as other kinds of cells in the kidneys. The kidneys have millions of minute clusters of blood vessels, or glomeruli, to help filter out waste from the bloodstream. Serious damage to these glomeruli eventually leads to the condition of diabetic nephropathy, deteriorating kidney function, and finally kidney failure. This is a rampant complication related to diabetes. With time, uncontrolled diabetes will result in damaged clusters of blood vessels within the kidneys which are responsible for filtering waste from the blood. This leads to terrible kidney damage and results in hypertension. Such high blood pressure will lead to even more damage to the kidneys because of the excess pressure in the fragile system inside the kidneys.

Risk factors

For diabetic patients, factors which potentially increase the chances of diabetic nephropathy are,

  • Hyperglycaemia
  • Hypertension
  • Smoking
  • High levels of cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Genetic risk of diabetes, kidney disease.

Preventing Diabetic Nephropathy

  • Maintain routine appointments with doctors to manage diabetes. Ensure to follow annual appointments, or as advised by your doctor, in order to monitor your diabetes management while also testing for other complications such as diabetic neuropathy or retinopathy.
  • Control your Diabetes: By properly treating your diabetes, it is possible to prevent and delay diabetic kidney failure.
  • Solve associated problems such as hypertension. In case you battle such conditions which can increase the chance of kidney malfunction, discuss with your doctor for their control.
  • Take note of instructions when consuming over-the-counter drugs, like pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication. With diabetic nephropathy, consuming such pain relievers may worsen kidney damage.
  • Work out to maintain a healthy weight through physical activities. In case you have to reduce your weight, take advice from your doctor regarding effective weight-loss plans, as per your body and goals.
  • Avoid smoking. Cigarettes damage the kidneys and can worsen underlying kidney damage. In case you smoke regularly, look for methods to help you quit smoking. With a little push from counselling and medication, you will be able to get rid of the smoking habit easily.


The cure for diabetic nephropathy has still not been discovered, making the treatment lifelong. Approximately 20% to 30% of patients with diabetes are at a high risk of diabetic nephropathy. While most of these will not lead to end-stage kidney failure, a person battling diabetes is prone to nephropathy problems irrespective of their insulin use. However, there are modern healthcare plans and techniques available at the best nephrology hospitals which can control the worsening of the disease and enhance their quality of life.





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