Diabetes and Kidney Disease

Diabetes and Kidney Disease


By Dr. Jagtap T N, General Physician

The kidneys are the filters within the body which are responsible for flushing out toxins from the blood. There are millions of tiny blood vessels through which the blood passes and the toxins within are caught. These toxins are then flushed out in the form of urine. However, certain disorders can severely disrupt this process and diabetes is one of the leading causes.

How Do the Kidneys Function?

Each kidney contains millions of very small blood vessels through which blood passes freely. These blood vessels contain tiny holes which allow red blood cells and other important materials such as proteins to pass through easily. However, waste products which tend to have smaller molecules pass through these holes, which are accumulated as waste in the bladder.

How Does Diabetes Affect Kidney Function?

One of the major effects of diabetes is the damage it does to blood vessels. The tiny vessels within the kidneys, also known as capillaries, can become damaged and the hole within them tends to get bigger. Thus, they may allow some of the important materials such as protein and red blood cells to pass through as well. This leakage may not be detected for a very long time and may eventually progress into the much more serious condition of kidney or renal failure. At this stage, either dialysis or kidney transplant would be the only option.

Symptoms of Kidney Disease Caused by Diabetes:

Some of the typical symptoms of diabetic kidney disease would be –

  1. Swelling in the legs and eyes becoming puffy
  2. Increased frequency of urination, especially at night
  3. Diabetes may be accompanied by high blood pressure as well
  4. Fatigue and weakness
  5. Loss of appetite
  6. Nausea accompanied by vomiting
  7. Getting bruises easily on the skin
  8. Sleeping problems
  9. Restless leg syndrome
  10. Shortness of breath
  11. Headache among others

Detecting Problems Early On…

It becomes very important to ensure that the symptoms are detected early to avoid major problems later. Minor forms of the kidney disease will not show any symptom until it has progressed to renal failure. Hence, periodic testing of urine is required to calculate proteins within it, which will be a telltale sign whether the kidney is functioning normally or not.


The best way to combat diabetes-related kidney disease is to prevent it from happening in the first place. You should be very careful if you have diabetes already. Other things such as blood pressure can also tend to add to the problem. Some of the steps that you may need to take are –

  1. Ensure blood glucose levels are in check
  2. Quit smoking
  3. Ensure that the blood pressure levels are kept under control
  4. Check cholesterol levels regularly
  5. Work out or have some form of daily physical activity
  6. Change to a healthy diet plan

    If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a general physician and ask a free question.