diabetic nephropathy in seniors

Diabetes is a health issue that concerns millions of people in the world. It is a condition that continues to negatively impact various other systems in the body, by being chronic and not yielding to medications. Diabetes is associated with cardiovascular conditions, stroke, and even  kidney failures. However, not every patient diagnosed with diabetes is expected to have kidney failure. There are various factors that lead to diabetes kidney failure or diabetes nephropathy.

Diabetes nephropathy is a progressive kidney disease that leads to kidney failure in some cases. Diabetes nephropathy is also known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD). It affects people with both type 1 and 2 diabetes. Early detection is the key in reducing the symptoms or even to stop the kidney failure. With proper medical support people with diabetes nephropathy can live without complications.

Stay with the blog till the end to understand everything about diabetes nephropathy including the reason for diabetic nephropathy, diabetic neuropathy symptoms and treatment and so on.

What causes diabetic nephropathy?

Like the neurons in the brain, each of your kidneys contains millions of nephrons that filter your blood. Diabetes can hamper the ability of these nephrons by thickening and scarring them. This happens over a period and progressively. As a result the waste content in the blood could not be filtered the way it should be. In addition, the nephrons start producing the protein called albumin which indicates the presence of diabetes and progressive kidney disorder.

Who is at the risk of diabetic nephropathy?

Severe diabetic conditions that lead to eye and nerve damage, people who have developed type 2 diabetes under the age of 20 are at high risk. Usually, people with kidney disorders in the family and people who are obese are at a higher risk. Also, people from certain ethnicities such as hispanic, African-Americans and American-Indians are at a higher risk.

What are the symptoms of diabetic nephropathy?

As it is a progressive disease, people might not be able to spot the obvious symptoms and it can destroy the chances of reversing the disease at the early stage itself. Being aware of the symptoms can be helpful for the family members to seek medical help for the person in the early stage of nephropathy. General symptoms include feeling unwell, fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, itchy and dry skin, and swelling of arms and legs. If you are observing these symptoms for more than 1 week, it is time to seek medical help. 

What is diagnosis of diabetic nephropathy?

In the presence of diabetes, your doctor might prescribe medical tests that include microalbuminuria test (from the urine sample), blood test that checks for urea nitrogen volumes that are higher than normal, and the serum creatinine test that measures creatinine levels. Apart from these tests, the kidney specialist might prescribe a kidney biopsy to understand the severity of the disease.

After evaluating the test results, the specialist concedes the stage of the condition based on which the treatment approach is depended upon.

What are the stages of kidney disease?

Using the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), your doctor finds out the stage of the progressive kidney disorder. The patients age, gender, ethnicity, physical status are taken into consideration before determining the stage.

  • Stage 1: This is the earliest stage and the GFR would be >90. The condition is irreversible with medical help.
  • Stage 2: The GFR is between 60-89 and the kidneys might have lost some functionality.
  • Stage 3: GFR indicates between 30-59 and half the functioning ability of kidneys is lost.
  • Stage 4: The GFR is 15-29 and the kidney is severely damaged.
  • Stage 5: GFR would be less than 15 and the person might need dialysis or kidney transplant.

What are the ways to protect yourself from diabetic nephropathy?

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to check all the right boxes to ensure your kidneys are in good shape.

  • Take measures to keep your blood sugar levels and the blood pressure under control
  • Quit smoking and limit your alcohol consumption
  • Exercise daily and eat healthy

If you are a senior living alone and unable to manage diabetes, take help from the skilled nursing homes or assisted living facilities.


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