Diabetes and kidney disease

Kidney disease is called a ‘silent disease’ as there are often few or no symptoms. Some signs and symptoms include:

a change in the frequency and quantity of urine passed, especially at night (usually an increase at first)

blood in the urine (haematuria)

foaming urine

puffiness around the eyes and ankles (oedema)

pain in the back (under the lower ribs, where the kidneys are located)

pain or burning when passing urine.

When the kidneys begin to fail, there is a build-up of waste products and extra fluid in the blood, as well as other problems, gradually leading to:

tiredness, inability to concentrate

generally feeling unwell

loss of appetite

nausea and vomiting

shortness of breath.

Diabetes and kidney disease

Diabetes is the main cause of kidney failure (also known as ‘end-stage kidney disease’ or ESKD). About 20 to 30 per cent of people with diabetes develop a type of kidney disease called diabetic nephropathy. A person with diabetic nephropathy on dialysis is about 50 times more likely than the general population to develop CVD.

Which factors increase the risk of diabetic kidney disease?

About one third of all people with diabetes develop Diabetic Kidney Disease, which may affect your kidney function by causing:

Damage to blood vessels Even with the use of injected insulin, diabetes can cause damage to the small blood vessels in the body. The tiny blood vessels in the filters of the kidney (the glomeruli) may also be affected. In the early stage, this damage causes small amounts of protein in the urine. At a later stage, so much protein can be lost from the blood that water moves into the body tissues and causes swelling. After a number of years, the kidney filters can fail completely.

Damage to nerves Diabetes can also damage the nerves in many parts of the body. When the bladder is affected, it may be difficult to pass urine. If urine builds up in the bladder, the pressure can make it to flow back into the kidneys causing scarring and kidney damage.


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