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Diabetes and kidney disease

Of all the complications associated with diabetes, kidney disease ranks among the most serious. Kidney disease is progressive, incurable and potentially fatal.

Diabetes damages blood vessels throughout the body.

In the kidneys, blood vessels play a key role in filtering wastes from the blood. Damage to these vessels impairs the kidneys' function, and wastes and excess fluids build up.

Kidney disease can sometimes progress to a point called kidney failure, a condition in which the kidneys function at a mere fraction of their normal capacity. To survive, a person needs dialysis or a kidney transplant.

However, not everyone with diabetes will develop kidney disease, and not everyone with kidney disease will develop kidney failure.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, these factors can affect the risk for kidney disease and how severe the disease becomes:

High blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the chance of developing kidney disease and speeds its progress. Medicines that lower blood pressure can considerably slow the onset of kidney disease.

Blood sugar. High levels of blood sugar also increase a person's risk of developing kidney failure.

Diet. People with diabetic kidney disease may benefit from a low-protein diet. Low-protein diets have been shown to slow the progression of kidney disease to kidney failure. A doctor or dietitian can offer guidelines for an appropriate diet.

Neither diabetes nor kidney disease can be cured. However, with a doctor's help they can be managed, controlled and treated. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about being regularly screened for kidney disease.

Reviewed 1/26/2021

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