Diabetes mellitus, usually called diabetes, is a disease in which your body does not make enough insulin or cannot use normal amounts of insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in your blood. A high blood sugar level can cause problems in many parts of your body.
Are there different types of diabetes?
The most common ones are Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children. It is also called juvenile onset diabetes mellitus or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. In this type, your pancreas does not make enough insulin and you have to take insulin injections for the rest of your life.
Type 2 diabetes, which is more common, usually occurs in people over 40 and is called adult onset diabetes mellitus. It is also called non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. In Type 2, your pancreas makes insulin, but your body does not use it properly. The high blood sugar level often can be controlled by following a diet and/or taking medication, although some patients must take insulin. Type 2 diabetes is particularly prevalent among African Americans, American Indians, Latin Americans and Asian Americans.
What does diabetes do to the kidneys?
With diabetes, the small blood vessels in the body are injured. When the blood vessels in the kidneys are injured, your kidneys cannot clean your blood properly. Your body will retain more water and salt than it should, which can result in weight gain and ankle swelling. You may have protein in your urine. Also, waste materials will build up in your blood.
Diabetes also may cause damage to nerves in your body. This can cause difficulty in emptying your bladder. The pressure resulting from your full bladder can back up and injure the kidneys. Also, if urine remains in your bladder for a long time, you can develop an infection from the rapid growth of bacteria in urine that has a high sugar level.
How many diabetic patients will develop kidney disease?
About 30 percent of patients with Type 1 (juvenile onset) diabetes and 10 to 40 percent of those with Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes eventually will suffer from kidney failure.
What are the early signs of kidney disease in patients with diabetes?
The earliest sign of diabetic kidney disease is an increased excretion of albumin in the urine. This is present long before the usual tests done in your doctor’s office show evidence of kidney disease, so it is important for you to have this test on a yearly basis. Weight gain and ankle swelling may occur. You will use the bathroom more at night. Your blood pressure may get too high. As a person with diabetes, you should have your blood, urine and blood pressure checked at least once a year. This will lead to better control of your disease and early treatment of high blood pressure and kidney disease. Maintaining control of your diabetes can lower your risk of developing severe kidney disease.
What are the late signs of kidney disease in patients with diabetes?
As your kidneys fail, your blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels will rise as well as the level of creatinine in your blood. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, a loss of appetite, weakness, increasing fatigue, itching, muscle cramps (especially in your legs) and anemia (a low blood count). You may find you need less insulin. This is because diseased kidneys cause less breakdown of insulin. If you develop any of these signs, call your doctor.
Signs of Kidney Disease in Patients with Diabetes
- Albumin/protein in the urine
- High blood pressure
- Ankle and leg swelling, leg cramps
- Going to the bathroom more often at night
- High levels of BUN and creatinine in blood
- Less need for insulin or antidiabetic medications
- Morning sickness, nausea and vomiting
- Weakness, paleness and anemia