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How long does it take for diabetes to cause kidney damage?

How long does it take for diabetes to cause kidney damage?

Also called diabetic nephropathy, diabetic kidney disease is a complication of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This is a serious condition as it impedes the kidney’s ability to get rid of the body’s waste products and excess fluid. This damage to the body’s filtering system can ultimately lead to kidney failure, or end-stage kidney disease. This is one of the leading causes of death and affects one of three people living with diabetes. But how long does it take for diabetes to cause kidney damage?

Signs and symptoms of diabetic kidney disease

Because this disease targets kidney function, the body retains more water than normal, resulting in weight gain and ankle swelling. Early on in the disease, there may be increased albumin (protein) in the urine and more bathroom visits at night.

Since the kidneys cannot remove excess fluid, the pressure of the bladder on the kidneys injures them further, giving rise to infection from the buildup of bacteria. Those with the disease may be found to have high blood pressure and urine with high sugar levels.

Signs that develop later on include

  • Higher levels of blood urea nitrogen and creatinine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Itching
  • Muscle cramps
  • Anemia

What puts one at risk for diabetic kidney disease and its complications?

Diabetes, to an extent, is influenced by lifestyle factors, which in turn influence how long it takes for diabetes to cause kidney damage. These include:

  • Smoking
  • Not adhering to a proper diet plan
  • Eating too much salty food
  • Being inactive
  • Being overweight
  • Having heart disease
  • Having a family history of kidney disease

Too much damage to the kidneys can cause end-stage kidney failure, which can only be treated with dialysis or kidney transplant.

Can diabetic kidney disease be reversed?

People experience changes in kidney function within three to five years of diagnosis. Nearly 30%-40% of people with type 1 diabetes develop serious issues within 10 to 30 years, which is how long it takes for diabetes to cause kidney damage after it’s been diagnosed.

The damage is believed to be irreversible. It can only be delayed or halted by maintaining normal levels of blood sugar and controlling the condition through a proper diet plan and medication. Thus, it is important to undergo regular checkups with your doctor.

How can the disease be managed or prevented?

The following steps can help prevent or manage diabetic kidney disease:

  • Treating diabetes
  • Managing blood pressure and other conditions, if any
  • Following instructions on the usage of OTC medicines (ibuprofen and aspirin can potentially contribute to kidney damage)
  • Keeping A1C test (average blood sugar test) levels low
  • Maintaining a healthy weight with physical activity
  • No smoking
  • Less sodium intake, and healthier eating

A registered dietitian with a background in diabetes and chronic kidney disease nutrition can draw up an eating plan tailored to an individual’s nutritional needs. Particularly, people suffering from kidney disease need to lessen their intake of potassium, phosphorus, and protein.

Key Takeaways

Diabetes is a big risk factor for the development of kidney disease. How long does it take for diabetes to cause kidney damage? It depends on the type of diabetes and case. Thus, it is important to consult your doctor.

If left untreated, diabetes can lead to adverse effects on the kidney, which are irreversible. In serious cases, it can result in end-stage kidney failure.

Learn more about Diabetes Complications here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Diabetic nephropathy, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-nephropathy/symptoms-causes/, Accessed April 24, 2021

Diabetic Kidney Disease, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/diabetic-kidney-disease, Accessed April 24, 2021

Diabetes – A Major Risk Factor for Kidney Disease, https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/diabetes Accessed April 24, 2021

Diabetes and kidney disease: can it be reversed?, https://www.diabetescarecommunity.ca/living-well-with-diabetes-articles/diabetes-and-kidney-disease-can-it-be-reversed/, Accessed 24 April 2021

Diabetes and Kidney Disease: What to Eat?, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well/what-to-eat.html, Accessed 24 April 2021

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Written by Louise Nichole Logarta Updated May 10
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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