How Are Diabetes and Kidney Disease Related?

How are kidney disease and diabetes-related? Kidney disease or failure can happen for a variety of reasons. For people living with diabetes, the risk of kidney failure is quite common. Without the proper knowledge and supervision, patients with diabetes can quickly experience symptoms of complete renal failure with limited treatment options.


If you have diabetes and would like to learn more about how diabetes and kidney disease are related, please continue reading for more information.


What is Diabetic Nephropathy?

Diabetic nephropathy, also known as diabetic kidney disease, is a long-term kidney disease that affects people with diabetes. This condition occurs when increased blood glucose levels damage the body’s kidneys.

Over time, poorly managed diabetes can damage blood vessels that are crucial in filtering waste from your bloodstream.

Diabetic nephropathy affects 20 to 30 percent of people with diabetes. It has become one of the leading causes of kidney failure. In its earliest stage, symptoms of diabetic nephropathy can be found in a patient’s urine.

Therefore, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with in-depth information on diabetic nephropathy. Since diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States, diabetic kidney disease has become the main cause of end-stage kidney failure.

Early treatment can prevent the onset of diabetic kidney disease. The following section will explain how diabetic nephropathy can be diagnosed.

Diagnosis of Diabetes with Renal Manifestations

At its earliest stage, low levels of albumin can be found in the urine of diabetic patients. This stage is called incipient nephropathy. As the disease progresses, the patient’s levels of albumin will continue to increase until they are diagnosed with overt nephropathy.


This condition rarely develops in patients with type-1 diabetes in the first two years. Because of this, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that diabetes patients should be evaluated after the patient has had diabetes.


On the other hand, patients with type-2 diabetes have a higher chance of having diabetes with renal manifestations. For this reason, they should be screened properly once they have been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.


Furthermore, there are three ways in which diabetes with renal manifestations can be diagnosed. These methods include urine samples on-the-spot, and 24 hours after the initial evaluation. Diagnosing diabetes with renal manifestations on-the-spot proves to be a lot simpler for healthcare professionals.


As you read further, you will learn about the various symptoms of diabetes with renal manifestations to watch out for, as well as why diabetes with renal manifestation is such a dangerous condition.


Why is Diabetes with Renal Manifestations Dangerous?

Diabetic nephropathy affects how your kidneys perform its role in eliminating waste and extra fluid from your blood. As for obesity and diabetes, San Antonio patients who don’t take care of their bodies and eat right, diabetic nephropathy is a realistic possibility.

In fact, 25 percent of all people with diabetes will develop kidney disease. Over time, diabetic nephropathy will slowly damage the kidneys and render it incapable of performing its essential duties.


Early treatment may slow or prevent the onset of diabetic nephropathy, and a lack of early treatment can result in end-stage kidney failure.


At this point, kidney failure can become a life-threatening condition where only dialysis is a feasible option. For those who wait too long to be screened, waiting for a kidney transplant may become an unlikely scenario.


With that said, the following section will explain the symptoms of diabetic nephropathy.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Nephropathy?


You may not be able to notice the symptoms of diabetic nephropathy in its early stages. As the disease progresses, these symptoms could become visible:


  • Failure to regulate blood pressure (irregular hypertension)
  • Protein-filled urine
  • Consistent swelling of ankles, feet, eyes, and/or hands
  • Increased urination
  • Reduced need for diabetes medicine/insulin
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Constant itching
  • Fatigue

Many of these symptoms are common in people who may not have diabetes. If you are noticing one or more of these symptoms simultaneously, contact your healthcare provider immediately.


If you have diabetes, it’s essential to visit your doctor annually to receive a urine test to check for diabetic nephropathy. This will help determine how well your kidneys are working.


What are the Risk Factors?

The risk of developing diabetic nephropathy is greater if you have type-1 or type-2 diabetes. Several other factors could increase your risk for this condition, including:

  • Poorly controlled blood sugar that’s too high (hyperglycemia)
  • Poorly controlled blood pressure that’s too high (hypertension)
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • An excessive history of kidney disease and diabetes.

What are the Complications of Diabetic Nephropathy?

People with diabetic nephropathy can develop the following complications gradually over time:

  • Anemia
  • Gradual blindness (diabetic retinopathy)
  • Fluid retention. This can lead to fluid in your lungs, high blood pressure, and swelling in your legs and arms.
  • Increase levels of potassium in your blood (hyperkalemia)
  • Erectile dysfunction, foot sores, and diarrhea.
  • Complications of pregnancy for both the mother and the unborn fetus.
  • Irreversible damage to your kidneys, which will result in the need for a transplant or dialysis to survive.

To avoid these complications, you should be keen on keeping yourself healthy. The following section will dig deep on preventative measures for reducing the chances of receiving diabetes with renal manifestations.

How to Prevent Diabetic Nephropathy

To reduce the risk of developing diabetic nephropathy, you should:

  • Treat your diabetes with the right medications prescribed by your doctor.
  • Manage your hypertension and other medical conditions to promote great kidney health.
  • Maintain a healthy weight, exercise every day, and practice a healthy diet.
  • Don’t smoke.

These basic tips can go a long way in keeping your kidneys healthy and simultaneously coping with your diabetes.


Do You Have Any Questions?

South Texas Renal Care Group is committed to providing cutting-edge treatment and care to help our patients live a fulfilling life. If you need advice or would like to learn more about how to cope with your chronic kidney disease, give us a call at (210) 212-8622 for more information.

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