Diabetes affects various organs of the body, like the heart and eyes. Also, diabetes impairs kidney function. 80 percent of patients with kidney disease have a history of diabetes. The final stage of nephropathy is known as kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease (ESRD), doctors say.
They added that ESRD is commonly caused by diabetes. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to diabetic nephropathy, although type 1 has a higher likelihood of progressing to ESRD. Control diabetes through proper nutrition, regular exercise, blood sugar management, maintaining a healthy weight, and ultimately preventing the need for a kidney transplant.
Dr Bhavik Saglani, Diabetologist, Apollo Spectra, Mumbai, said, “Diabetes accounts for 80% of kidney failure cases. When uncontrolled or poorly managed, it can lead to damage to the blood vessels and nerves of the kidneys. The high levels of glucose in the blood associated with diabetes can damage the delicate filtering system in the kidneys over time and impair kidney function.”
“Many diabetic patients come for treatment every month. 25 to 30 of these patients have kidney problems due to diabetes. High glucose levels in individuals with diabetes can trigger inflammation in the kidneys. This chronic inflammation contributes significantly to kidney damage and eventually leads to kidney failure. Maintaining proper control of blood sugar levels through lifestyle changes and medication is crucial for reducing this risk,” Dr. Saglani added.
“Diabetic nephropathy invites hypertension. As kidney disease advances, changes in renal structure often lead to an elevation in blood pressure levels. Failure to manage hypertension can expedite the progression towards end-stage diabetic nephropathy. During the initial phases of diabetic nephropathy, symptoms may not manifest,” said Dr. Neeta Shah, Diabetologist, Zynova Shalby Hospital.
Dr. Shah added that, however, as the condition progresses, individuals may experience challenges in controlling high blood pressure. Swelling in various body parts, such as feet, ankles, hands, or eyes, may occur. Other symptoms include foamy urine, confusion or cognitive difficulties, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, itching sensations, and tiredness and weakness.
“One may also require dialysis and ultimately a kidney transplant to improve the quality of life. Almost half of patients coming to OPD are diagnosed with nephropathy; out of this, around 20 percent have ESRD. Those who have uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension progress to ESRD much earlier. Proper glycemic control through regular monitoring and appropriate medication helps prevent high glucose levels that contribute to renal damage. Additionally, adopting a healthy lifestyle by maintaining a balanced diet low in added sugars, regular kidney health checkups, and engaging in physical activity plays a vital role in mitigating both diabetes and its complications like kidney disease,” he elaborated.
Diabetes has become an alarming epidemic in India, with the country witnessing a steep rise in the number of cases. The disease has taken a toll on both rural and urban populations, affecting people across all age groups.
This rapid increase can be attributed to various factors, including sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy dietary habits, and genetic predispositions. Lack of physical activity combined with overconsumption of fatty and sugary foods has created a perfect storm for diabetes to flourish.
The convenience of fast food options and the availability of processed snacks have further aggravated this crisis. Diabetes leads to life-threatening complications. Cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks and strokes, neuropathy, numbness and tingling sensations, vision problems, or even blindness. Similarly, kidney damage, known as diabetic nephropathy, is another complication of diabetes that arises when uncontrolled glucose levels harm the tiny filtering units within the kidneys. This can eventually progress into chronic kidney disease if left untreated.