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Diabetic nephropathy is kidney disease that develops due to diabetes.
In people with diabetes, too much blood sugar or glucose can damage blood vessels inside the kidneys and affect how they work. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause kidney disease.
About 1 in 3 adults with diabetes may have chronic kidney disease.
Doctors also call diabetic nephropathy diabetic kidney disease or chronic kidney disease (CKD) due to diabetes.
Diabetes can cause damage to the glomerulus, the part of the kidney that filters blood. There are many of them in your kidneys. When these filters get damaged, this is diabetic glomerulopathy.
Excessive blood sugar levels from diabetes damage blood vessels inside the kidneys. This damage happens over time, so you might not notice any symptoms of kidney disease at first.
High blood pressure in people with diabetes can also cause the disease.
Blood vessels in the kidneys become damaged, making it hard for kidney filters to remove waste. When this occurs, fluid starts to build up in the body.
Having diabetes puts you at risk for diabetic kidney disease.
You're also at greater risk if you:
When you can't manage blood sugar levels and blood pressure, diabetic kidney disease can progress to kidney failure or end-stage renal disease.
If you have kidney failure, your kidneys can no longer filter your blood. This leads to a build-up of waste and fluid in the body.
Doctors treat end-stage kidney disease with dialysis to filter waste and fluid or a kidney transplant.
Preventing diabetic kidney disease starts with knowing your risk factors. It's also important to know that you might not have any symptoms until the disease has progressed.
Steps you can take to help prevent or reduce your risk of kidney disease include:
If you have kidney disease, these steps can also help keep it from getting worse.
The UPMC Kidney Disease Center includes leading experts in the field of kidney disease. We work with your PCP and endocrinologists on a treatment plan to slow the progression of your diabetic kidney disease.
We also partner with UPMC's kidney transplant experts, offering care for diabetic kidney disease that has progressed to end-stage renal disease.
If you have diabetic nephropathy — or diabetic kidney disease — you might not know you have it. Sometimes, symptoms don't start until kidney disease has progressed.
Let your doctor know if:
These might be signs that fluid and waste are building up in your body.
To find out if your kidneys are working properly, your doctor might order:
Your doctor might want you to have other tests based on your specific condition.
The experts at UPMC's Kidney Disease Center work with you on a treatment plan to best manage your diabetic kidney disease.
Our treatment goals are to either reverse your kidney disease when possible or slow its progress.
Doctors often suggest lifestyle changes to treat your kidney disease.
Some of these changes include:
Doctors sometimes prescribe certain drugs to help prevent or slow the progression of diabetic kidney disease.
These include drugs to:
When diabetic nephropathy progresses to end-stage renal disease, or kidney failure, your doctor might refer you to the UPMC kidney transplant program.
During a transplant, you'll receive a healthy kidney from a donor. The donor might be living or deceased.
After kidney transplant, you'll have to make certain changes to protect your new kidney and its function.
You'll need to limit salt in your diet to help manage your blood pressure. And you'll also need to take anti-rejection drugs to prevent your body from trying to destroy the new kidney.