- High blood sugar can overwork the kidneys, causing them to stop working properly.
- When diagnosed early, kidney disease can be slowed with treatment.
- When diagnosed later, kidney failure usually results.
- Once kidneys fail, replacement therapy via dialysis or transplant is necessary.
Kidneys are remarkable organs. Inside them are millions of tiny blood vessels that act as filters. Their job is to remove waste products from the blood.
Sometimes this filtering system breaks down. Diabetes can damage the kidneys and cause them to fail. Failing kidneys lose their ability to filter out waste products, resulting in kidney disease.
How does diabetes cause kidney disease?
When our bodies digest the protein we eat, the process creates waste products. In the kidneys, millions of tiny blood vessels (capillaries) with even tinier holes in them act as filters. As blood flows through the blood vessels, small molecules such as waste products squeeze through the holes. These waste products become part of the urine. Useful substances, such as protein and red blood cells, are too big to pass through the holes in the filter and stay in the blood.
Who gets kidney disease?
Not everyone with diabetes develops kidney disease. Factors that can influence kidney disease development include genetics, blood sugar control, and blood pressure.
What are the symptoms?
The kidneys work hard to make up for the failing capillaries so kidney disease produces no symptoms until almost all function is gone. Also, the symptoms of kidney disease are not specific. The first symptom of kidney disease is often fluid buildup. Other symptoms of kidney disease include loss of sleep, poor appetite, upset stomach, weakness, and difficulty concentrating.