Diabetes continues to hold the distinction of being the number one cause of kidney failure. But many people are under the impression when diabetes is managed properly there is no harm being caused to the kidneys. Unfortunately, this is simply not always the case. Many people, Type 2 diabetics and non-diabetics alike, have the beginnings of kidney disease and don't even know it.
The problem lies in the fact kidney disease can surface in many different forms, and in many levels of severity. It is possible to have chronic kidney disease that does not morph into full-blown kidney failure. Further complicating matters is the fact there are many individuals who are not aware they even have some form of kidney disease.
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In a person with diabetes, the kidneys start to work less efficiently because blood vessels in and round them become diseased. This takes place, partly due to free-radical damage, which is also the case in issues with the pancreas and heart.
Missing the signs of early kidney disease is easy unless you know what to look for. The importance of recognizing you have serious kidney problems is important because early detection means you can intervene quickly and save your kidneys.
Signs and symptoms of kidney problems: When kidney disease related to diabetes starts to occur, you will start to notice changes:
- you may find you need to urinate less frequently, or you might find only a small amount comes out
- your first sign of trouble could be swelling in your ankle
- exhaustion: when your kidneys get tired, so do you
- bad breath occurs when your kidneys stop filtering properly due to a build up of urea in your blood
- flu-like symptoms due to uremia
- itchy skin occurs due to your kidneys being unable to remove waste products from your bloodstream
- flank pain
What does the future hold if kidney disease is not diagnosed and treated: Diabetes wreaks havoc on the kidneys by causing damage to the components of the kidney that filter out waste. Since the kidneys work to keep the right balance of water in your body it is important this balance be preserved. If the kidneys fail to perform this task, then it has to be done artificially or the individual would eventually die.This procedure is called dialysis and it involves being hooked up to a machine several times per week to allow it to filter the blood for you. About 40 percent of all dialysis patients have diabetes.
Dialysis is not meant to be a permanent solution to the problem. The best scenario is to perform a kidney transplant and replace the diseased kidney with a healthy one. Although there are two kidneys present, the human body is designed to work well with just one good kidney. Doctors have to keep a close eye on these cases since a common problem is not necessarily kidney disease itself, but the associated complications of diabetes that also occur, such as heart disease and damage to nerves.
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The remarkable characteristic of kidney disease is that it is slow in progression. In fact, it is not uncommon for the disease to take up to 25 years before it has advanced to the stage of kidney failure. Typically, there are no ill effects of kidney disease within the first 10 years of Type 2 diabetes. Equally remarkable is the fact that as a diabetic advances past the 25 year marker of having diabetes, their probability of developing kidney disease actually decreases.
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