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Diabetic Nephropathy

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Diabetic Nephropathy

(Nephropathy, Diabetic; Diabetic Glomerulosclerosis)


Diabetic nephropathy is kidney damage that occurs with diabetes. It can keep the kidneys from doing their job of removing waste and extra fluid from the body. In some people, this can lead to kidney failure.

Anatomy of the Kidney.

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Blood passes through small filters in the kidneys. Changes in the blood vessels due to diabetes can cause damage to these filters. This can make it hard for them to clean the blood properly and cause protein from the blood to leak into the urine. If left untreated, this can lead to kidney failure.

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes with:


Symptoms may not appear until kidney damage is severe. A person may have:

  • Weakness
  • Lack of hunger
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling in the feet or hands
  • Problems sleeping
  • Confusion and trouble with focus


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Blood tests will be done to check kidney function. Urine tests will be done to look for protein, which is an early sign of kidney damage.

If the diagnosis is not clear, a kidney biopsy may be done to check for damage.


The goal of treatment is to prevent or slow damage. Diabetes and blood pressure will both need to be controlled. Treatment options are:


People with diabetes and high blood pressure can lower the risk of this problem by following their care plan.





  • Diabetic kidney disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/diabetic-kidney-disease.
  • Diabetic nephropathy. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/diabetic-nephropathy.
  • Kidney disease (nephropathy). American Diabetes Association website. Available at: https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/complications/kidney-disease-nephropathy.


  • James Cornell, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.