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Not Really Sweet!

Have a sweet tooth? Make sure it doesn’t turn around and bite you. Too much sugar can kill your kidneys.

Diabetic Nephropathy or kidney disease caused due to diabetes is one of the main causes of permanent kidney failure. Worldwide estimates say that almost one third of people with diabetes develop kidney diseases as they might have other life-long medical conditions like hypertension and high cholesterol. In people with Type 1 diabetes, kidney diseases may not occur in the first 10 years of diagnosis of diabetes. In those with Type 2 diabetes, a kidney disorder might already be present even before diagnosis of diabetes.

Diabetics also at higher risk of developing other complications like nerve damage and infections in the bladder.


Unfortunately, diabetic nephropathy can go unnoticed, as there might be no symptoms at all in the early stages. Symptoms will slowly start showing only after the kidneys are almost fully damaged, which is precisely the reason why diabetics need to keep doing regular renal (kidney) function tests.

Seek immediate medical help if you notice the following symptoms:

  • Swelling/ edema in the feet, hands and face
  • Weakness/ fatigue
  • Itching and extremely dry skin
  • Poor appetite
  • Nauseated feeling
  • Drowsiness
  • Change in sleep pattern
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Muscle twitching
  • Abnormalities in heartbeats due to increased blood potassium levels

As the kidney damage worsens, the ability of the kidneys to filter blood and remove waste substances from the body will decrease dangerously. This will lead to build- up of toxins and chemicals in the body - a condition called uremia.


Diabetic nephropathy can be diagnosed through specific blood tests and protein levels in the urine.


If you are not a diabetic, consider yourself lucky.

  • Reduce your sugar/ sweet intake, especially white sugar.
  • Keep a strict tab on your diet - avoid fatty, oily food.
  • Cut down on your salt intake
  • Drink 2 – 2.5 litres of water everyday
  • Exercise for 45 minutes (brisk walking is perfectly fine)


  • Keep your blood sugar levels under control
  • Do not have sweets or anything to do with white sugar
  • Ask your renal dietician as to what all you can have and what you can’t
  • Make sure you consult your Nephrologist at regular intervals
  • Even if you don’t have any kidney problems, make sure you do regular renal function blood and urine tests
  • Exercise regularly

Remember, if left untreated, the kidney function will continue to deteriorate and increased amounts of proteins will be detected in the urine. Advanced kidney failure may require the next level of medical care, including dialysis and kidney transplant.

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