What is Diabetic Nephropathy

Diabetic nephropathy, otherwise known as kidney disease, is when the kidneys begin to fail at their job. Kidneys filter the blood and remove all the bad impurities from it, and waste products that are generated around the body. These are then passed out of the body as urine. Polyuria Page

Kidney disease is caused by the damage of the network of fine blood vessels that acts as the filter for the blood. High glucose levels are often associated with blood vessel damage, such as with retinopathy.

Nephropathy is not immediately noticeable, and it is divided into five progressive stages. It is not until stages four and five that the symptoms begin to present themselves. This can make nephropathy dangerous as it can go unnoticed for a long time.

In order to screen for it then, diabetics should have an annual urine check.

If these checks are not done and the symptoms are the first sign, it is possible that the sufferer has reached End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). This is a dangerous position to be in, and could lead to kidney failure. This will then require an artificial blood cleansing treatment (dialysis) or a kidney transplant.


Treatment for nephropathy changes for each individual case. In early stages, it can be combated with a stricter diet and tighter controls over blood glucose levels, and this will help to prevent any further damage.

In addition, nephropathy has been linked with high blood pressure, so pressure lowering treatments could be recommended, or tablets could be prescribed to help with this aspect of the disease.

One form of blood pressure treatment is ACE Inhibitors which are tablets which lower pressure and help to prevent further kidney damage. However, ACE Inhibitors may have negative impacts on pregnancy, so you should check with your health care professional if you are planning to conceive. Diabetes and pregnancy


Symptoms don't typically begin to show until the later stages of nephropathy, and so a doctor should be seen immediately if you are diabetic and you think you may be suffering from it. However, an annual urine test should be able to identify the disease earlier.

Symptoms include:

  • Darker urine
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Being short of breath

Other diabetic symptoms/complications to be aware of