What are the lifestyle changes for diabetic nephropathy? 

When it comes to diabetes and its complications, prevention is better than cure. A number of complications of diabetes, including diabetic nephropathy, diabetic retinopathy and diabetic neuropathy, as advocated by experts like Best Nephrologist in Karachi can be prevented by making lifestyle changes and improving medication compliance. Read on to know more about diabetic kidney and the lifestyle changes that can improve it:

What is diabetic nephropathy?

The progressive disorder of diabetic nephropathy, occurs in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes with poor glycemic control over a period of time. Diabetes is one of the commonest causes for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and kidney transplant.

Changes like lifestyle modifications, better glycemic control, better blood pressure control, exercise, smoking cessation and eating healthy present as promising options at mitigating the mortality and morbidity associated with diabetic nephropathy. These cost-effective measures in adjunct to medical therapy can slow the disease process and prove beneficial for the patient.

What are the causes of diabetic nephropathy?

Diabetic nephropathy is caused by damage to the nephrons—the units of the kidney that filter waste. With very high blood sugars, as seen in diabetes, there is damage to the nephrons, rendering them unable to filter waste from the blood. Consequently, these waste products—like urea and creatinine—rise in the blood and produce adverse symptoms.

What are the symptoms of diabetic nephropathy?

The symptoms of diabetic nephropathy include:

  • Increased need to urinate
  • Worsening blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion and memory problems
  • Protein in the urine
  • Swelling in the body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite

What are the lifestyle changes for diabetic nephropathy?

End-stage renal damage is not the only outcome if you have been diagnosed with diabetic kidney. You can take early steps to prevent diabetic nephropathy. These include:

  • Exercise: make sure to make exercise a regular part of the routine. Healthcare experts recommend a minimum of weekly 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity. These benefits are independent of weight loss. Following the recommended exercise schedule helps to regulate blood pressure as well as blood glucose levels.
  • Get regular checkups: managing diabetes and hypertension means getting regular checkups from your healthcare provider, to see how well your medication is working and how the disease is progressing.
  • Taking the right medication: compliance to medication and taking the right preventive medication like ACE inhibitors, and ARBs goes a long way in preventing diabetic kidney. These medications not only keep the blood pressure down, but also play a protective role in diabetic nephropathy.
  • Quit smoking: as with many chronic disorders, smoking enhances their severity by increasing pro-inflammatory processes in the body. In diabetic nephropathy as well, there are increased chances of complications if the patient is a smoker. Therefore, patient should make efforts to stop smoking, seeking the help of their healthcare provider if need be.
  • Maintaining weight: obesity is an independent risk factor for diabetic nephropathy. For overweight or obese patients with kidney disorders, losing weight in a healthy manner can work wonders while minimizing the need for insulin and antihypertensive medication.
  • Managing blood glucose and blood pressure: with persistently raised blood glucose and blood pressure, there are long ranging damages to the blood vessels, nerves and organs—including the heart, eyes and stomach. Therefore, getting the right treatment for blood pressure, and regularly taking medication for glycemic control are of utmost importance for all diabetic patients.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet: eating right, and avoiding foods with high salt content and glycemic index are helpful for diabetic patients with kidney disease. For such patients, protein intake should be limited, along with processed foods, saturated fats, potassium-rich foods and high sodium content. Sodium intake should be limited to 1500 mg/dL per day, and not more than 2000 mg/dL.

As advocated by nephrologists like Dr. Aizaz Mand Ahmad, incorporation of a DASH diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and healthy fats are much better options for the patient.

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