According to the National Kidney Foundation, about 10-40 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes will develop kidney failure in their lifetime. Kidney disease often referred to as nephropathy, is one of the many long-term complications of diabetes. Excess glucose in the blood can damage the delicate, small blood vessels in the kidneys that filter the toxins from our bodies.
As a result, the kidneys cannot clean your blood properly and a build-up of waste materials, water and salt can remain in your blood.
The kidneys don’t just fail all at once; instead, the disease is progressive and can take years to develop. The good news is if it is caught early, it can be treated and further damage can be slowed. There are 5 stages of kidney disease, depending on the severity of the disease. For more information about the stages of kidney disease, you can read on here: Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease
Some people do not experience any symptoms of kidney disease and instead, it is picked up on a blood test. If you have diabetes, your doctor should check for signs of kidney disease using a blood and urine sample about once per year. These are routine tests. If, however, you do experience symptoms of kidney disease, the symptoms are caused by either a buildup of waste or fluid in the body or anemia.
Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Diabetes
- Swelling or puffiness. This is called edema. It most commonly occurs in the legs, ankles, and feet, but can also occur around the eyes, abdomen and less often in other parts of the body.
- Trouble urinating (either being unable to go or going more than usual). Sometimes pain or burning can occur with urination. The urine could also be foamy, bloody or dark.
- Protein aversion: no longer wanting to eat meat.
- Fatigue, being unable to concentrate or tiring easily.
- Desire to chew ice, clay or laundry starch (this is called pica)
- Feeling “winded” or out of breath
- Loss of appetite and/or a metallic taste in the mouth or ammonia breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Inability to keep warm
- High blood pressure
- Itching or rashes
- Pain, mostly in legs and back, especially around the kidney area.
Many times, people with diabetes do not get diagnosed with the disease until they have had it for quite some time. As a result, elevated blood sugar levels can cause damage to the body before treatment. That means kidney damage can already be progressing when the diagnosis is made. Make sure to get your kidney function assessed when you are diagnosed, as well as periodically afterward. If you notice any of these symptoms, please see your doctor right away.