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Diabetic Nephropathy - Treatment Overview

Treatment if the condition gets worse

If damage to the blood vessels in the kidneys continues, kidney failure may eventually develop. When that occurs, it is likely that you will need dialysis treatment (renal replacement therapy)—an artificial method of filtering the blood—or a kidney transplant to survive. To learn more, see the topic Chronic Kidney Disease.

What to think about

Diabetic nephropathy can get worse during pregnancy and can affect the growth and development of the fetus. If your nephropathy is not severe, your kidney function may return to its prepregnancy level after the baby is born. If you have severe nephropathy, pregnancy may lead to permanent worsening of your kidney function.

If you have nephropathy and are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about which medicines you can take. You may not be able to take some medicines (for example, angiotensin-converting enzyme [ACE] inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers [ARBs]) during pregnancy, because they may harm your developing baby.

actionset.gif Pregnancy and Diabetes: Planning for Pregnancy


Prevention is the best way to avoid kidney damage from diabetic nephropathy.

If you already have diabetic nephropathy, you may be able to slow the progression of kidney damage by:

  • Avoiding dehydration by promptly treating other conditions—such as diarrhea, vomiting, or fever—that can cause it. Be especially careful during hot weather or when you exercise.
  • Reducing your risk of heart disease. Lifestyle changes such as eating a low-fat diet, quitting smoking , and getting regular exercise can help reduce your overall risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
  • Treating other conditions that may block the normal flow of urine out of the kidneys, such as kidney stones, an enlarged prostate, or bladder problems.
  • Not using medicines that may be harmful to your kidneys, especially nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Be sure that your doctor knows about all prescription, nonprescription, and herbal medicines you are taking.
  • Avoiding X-ray tests that require IV contrast material, such as angiograms, intravenous pyelography (IVP), and some CT scans. IV contrast can cause further kidney damage. If you do need to have these types of tests, make sure your doctor knows that you have diabetic nephropathy.
  • Avoiding situations where you risk losing large amounts of blood, such as unnecessary surgeries. Do not donate blood or plasma.
  • Lowering your blood pressure, because high blood pressure can make kidney damage even worse.
  • Checking with your doctor to find out if it is safe for you to drink alcohol. Limiting alcohol can lower your blood pressure and lower your risk of kidney damage.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 17, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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