Diabetes: What Goes Wrong in the Kidneys?

By Rita Latest Reply 2015-02-08 12:50:32 -0600
Started 2008-07-17 09:31:54 -0500

Kidneys filter toxins and wastes from the bloodstream, flushing them out of the body through urine, while retaining important proteins and other useful substances. This filtering work is done by glomeruli, a delicate network of capillaries. But after prolonged exposure to high blood sugar, capillary membranes thicken, and the glomeruli are damaged and distorted.

One of the first signs of kidney disease is an elevation in the level of the protein albumin in the urine. Most healthy people excrete less than 30 mg of albumin, the most abundant protein in blood, in the course of a day. In the initial stage of diabetic kidney disease, called microalbuminuria, more albumin (30–300 mg) appears in the urine each day because of leakage through the damaged glomeruli.

Most people with microalbuminuria go on to develop full-blown kidney disease. The next phase, known as clinical albuminuria (in which up to several grams — the equivalent of thousands of milligrams — of albumin are excreted each day), may not occur for another 10–15 years. Over the next 5–10 years after the development of clinical albuminuria, more than 90% of those affected will undergo a steady loss of the filtering capacity of their kidneys.

Because healthy kidneys can function at about 10 times the capacity of what’s needed for survival, symptoms don’t occur until 90% of kidney function has been lost. The inability to eliminate excess water and salt produces or worsens hypertension. Your body starts to retain fluid, causing weight gain and the swelling of your hands and feet. Without an effective filtering system, toxins accumulate, causing symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, and itching. At this point, kidney disease threatens survival and requires extreme measures, such as dialysis or transplantation.

8 replies

Gwen Morten
Gwen Morten 2012-07-19 17:24:58 -0500 Report

This is very scary, although that explains why one Dr put me on high bp med even though I don't have high bp. She said it was to protect my kidneys.

joanna RN NP
joanna RN NP 2012-07-21 13:35:18 -0500 Report

My doctor put me on losartan which is for BP control too Gwen. He said it was to protect my kidneys and I'll take as much help as I can get haha!

Kleedu13 2012-07-19 13:52:36 -0500 Report

This just reminds me of my husbands grandmother asking me what made me think having diabetes is serious. I couldn't believe my ears!

KathyH123 2012-07-19 00:09:45 -0500 Report

This kinda scares me a little because my last two doctor visits my protein has been elevated in my urine so over six months it's been elevated and I don't want anything bad to happen so it scares me some. :(

srweezy 2012-06-20 10:36:36 -0500 Report

This is why I work hard to keep my BG under control. I have seen the last stages of kidney failure and I don't want my family to see me like that.

butterfly_8 2008-08-01 15:34:59 -0500 Report

This is the only thing I do not like to think about,kidney failure. I think it is because I have2 family members that suffer from it.

Next Discussion: Kilojoules »