Diabetes as a Cause of Kidney Disease

There are different types of kidney disease, and different ways that the kidneys can begin to fail. In some cases, the cause of disease in someone’s kidneys stems from genetic factors that are out of the control of the sufferer. But the vast majority of causes are things that a person has some control over.

One of the well-known conditions that can lead to kidney disease is diabetes, but not everyone understands how a diabetic condition might eventually produce problems with the kidneys. As blood flows to the kidneys, impurities are filtered out while the healthy, more useful material, such as protein or blood cells, continue through the blood stream. But as sugar levels in the blood increase, the kidneys find themselves filtering more and more material.

What eventually occurs is that protein cells, too, begin to “leak” into the kidneys and get discarded in the urine. This happens because as the kidneys find themselves working much harder to filter the blood properly, eventually they start wearing out, and will become permanently damaged if the process is not somehow reversed. In the early period, this condition is called microalbuminuria, and it’s at this stage — when extra protein starts showing up in the urine, indicating a problem — at which the process may be stopped. If it progresses to macroalbuminuria, a high level of protein, the kidneys are damaged enough that complete failure is the most likely result.

Regular testing of protein levels in the urine can help a diabetic guard against the development of this problem. But the best way to try to prevent kidney disease in diabetics is to keep the blood sugar levels carefully controlled, and to control blood pressure as much as possible. Diabetes may be a condition that is inevitable for some people, if their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin. But kidney disease as a result of diabetes doesn’t have to be equally inevitable.

(For more detailed information, check the American Diabetes Association.)

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