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Renal Disease Secondary To Diabetes Can Be Reversed: Here's How

Medically reviewed by Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Oct 04, 2022

Renal Disease Secondary To Diabetes Can Be Reversed: Here's How

Diabetes can result in many health issues, further complicating the patient’s condition. Case in point: unmanaged high blood sugar levels can contribute to the development of kidney disease. What are the telltale signs of renal disease secondary to diabetes? If ever you notice these steps, how do you intervene? Find out here. 

What Is Renal Disease Secondary To Diabetes?

Renal disease secondary to diabetes refers to any kidney problem happening specifically due to the patient’s diabetes. It’s also called diabetic nephropathy.  

But, how does diabetes affect our kidneys? 

Prolonged or unmanaged high blood sugar can damage the delicate blood vessels in the kidney that filter blood. Also, diabetes increases the risk of hypertension. And hypertension can damage renal blood vessels as well. 

Should You Be More Cautious of Diabetic Nephropathy?

Anyone with diabetes must be careful with diabetic nephropathy, but you need to be more cautious if you have prolonged unmanaged hyperglycemia and hypertension. 

Also, the following factors can increase your risk:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Having sedentary lifestyle 
  • Having heart disease 
  • Being overweight
  • Having a diet high in salt, or one that does not follow what the doctor recommends
  • Having a family history of kidney failure

What Are the Telltale Signs of Renal Disease Secondary to Diabetes?

The thing with diabetic nephropathy is it’s unlikely to result in signs and symptoms early on. The only way to spot it is to undergo laboratory tests for your kidneys. For instance, they might check for albumin (a type of protein) in the urine because it can tell if the kidneys are still filtering blood effectively.

Talk to your doctor about these tests. You might need to have your kidneys tested once a year if you have type 2 diabetes or type 1 diabetes for 5 years now. 

Here are some of the signs and symptoms that renal disease secondary to diabetes:

  • Uncontrolled blood pressure 
  • Swelling (edema) in hands, feet, or eyes
  • Not needing as much insulin or diabetes medicine as before
  • Increased frequency in urination
  • Feeling extremely itchy
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Confusion

Some of the symptoms here can be indicative of kidney failure (like edema). Hence, if you experience some of them, please contact your doctor as soon as possible. 

Is Renal Disease Secondary To Diabetes Reversible?

Is diabetic nephropathy reversible? Initially, experts thought it wasn’t. But there are reports saying that it can be reversed if detected and managed early on. 

But, what does this intervention look like? The key, besides early detection, is strict sugar control. 

In a study, almost 50% of people with protein leakage in the urine (indicative of kidney damage) got better when they controlled their blood sugar level with insulin injections, had low blood pressure, and low levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides. 

But, of course, these strategies might no longer work if your kidneys already sustained extensive damage. 

Healthy Lifestyle to Manage Diabetic Nephropathy 

In most cases, you’ll most definitely need medicines to address diabetes and other issues related to it. However, please don’t forget that a healthy lifestyle is just as important. 

To take care of your kidneys:

  • Quit or avoid smoking
  • Get in touch with a dietitian to develop a healthy diet that takes your preference into account. That way, you are less likely to “quit the diet.”
  • Perform appropriate physical activity as advised by your doctor. 
  • Work with your doctor to achieve a healthy weight. 
  • Strive to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. 
  • Key Takeaways

    Renal disease secondary to diabetes occurs primarily due to poor blood sugar control. Early in the disease progression, it may not produce signs and symptoms, that’s why it’s important to have your kidneys tested. With early detection and intervention, it might be possible to reverse diabetic nephropathy.

    Learn more about Diabetes here


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

    Medically reviewed by

    Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Oct 04, 2022

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