Kidney Disease and Diabetes

Kidney Disease Stages and Reversal

From STOP the Rollercoaster
Copyright © 1996 by Diabetes Services, Inc.

The human kidney is part of the body’s efficient waste disposal system. A healthy kidney cleans the blood by filtering out waste products which are then routed to the urine. Over time, high blood sugars can damage the cells and tiny blood vessels that perform this cleansing. The result is a damaged kidney that routes waste back into the body and releases excess amounts of protein into the urine. Symptoms of kidney failure are fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, and vomiting.

About 30 to 40 percent of people with Type 1 diabetes, and 20 to 30 percent of those with Type 2 diabetes, will develop moderate to advanced kidney disease. However, since the damage occurs slowly over time, when action is taken early there is time to prevent the worst of it.


In the DCCT, the intensive control group (the group that successfully controlled their blood sugars) experienced up to 54 percent less kidney disease compared to the moderate control group (which had less control). So, once again, the best way to prevent kidney disease is to keep blood sugars as normal as possible. Remember that this reduction in kidney damage is just due to improved blood sugar control in those with early kidney disease. Other protective measures that are more powerful with later kidney disease are discussed in Chapter 30.

Following these additional suggestions will do a lot toward preventing serious problems:

  • Have your urine checked regularly for microalbumin (a simple urine test). This detects kidney disease at its earliest stage when intervention is easiest. This test should be done at least yearly. If any abnormal readings occur, discuss with your doctor how and how often you should be monitored for kidney function.
  • Control your blood pressure through diet, relaxation techniques, and blood pressure medications (especially an ACE inhibitor).
  • If you have a family history of high blood pressure or kidney disease, discuss with your physician the use of an ACE inhibitor to prevent kidney disease.
  • Be alert for bladder or urinary tract infections and treat them early. Symptoms include burning when urinating, frequent urination, cloudy urine, and strong smell to the urine.
  • Decrease animal protein in the diet if you have any kidney disease or a family history of it. For helpful cookbooks, visit Nephron.

Nephron has additional information on Preventing Kidney Disease

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