Categories: Diabetes

Diabetic Nephropathy: Symptoms

What is Diabetic Nephropathy?

Kidney damage resulting from diabetes is called Diabetic Nephropathy. Having high blood sugar damages, the filtering ability of the kidney resulting in leaking of proteins in the urine. For some people, this can progress to chronic kidney disease and kidney failure.

How common is Diabetic Nephropathy?

Diabetic nephropathy is common. 1/4 women and 1/5 men with type 2 diabetes develop diabetic nephropathy. It is even more common in type 1 diabetes. It is the leading cause of kidney failure in India.


Diabetic nephropathy usually has no symptoms in the early stages. You can’t tell that there is a protein in your urine – it’s something that is detected with a urine test. Hence, screening for it is very important as a part of your diabetes care. It can take many years for kidney damage to progress and a person becomes symptomatic usually only after a significant deterioration of kidney function has occurred. Even then, the symptoms tend to be vague and rarely specific.

If the kidney damage becomes severe, you may notice:

  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Swollen feet, early morning puffiness of face around the eyes
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling tired
  • Unexplained low haemoglobin
  • Sudden episodes of low sugars and decreased need for insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents

Risk factors for Diabetic Nephropathy:

  • Longer duration of diabetes
  • Poor control of diabetes, high Hba1c
  • Uncontrolled blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Family history of the early development of diabetic kidney disease

Dr. Kranti Shreesh Khadilkar | Assistant Professor – Endocrinology | Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center, Bommasandra, Bangalore

Narayana Health

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