How can type 2 diabetes cause kidney damage?

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Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Medicine

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease.  When you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin and this results in a high blood sugar level.  This high blood sugar level can cause damage to the small vessels in your kidney.      Progressive damage to these small vessels leads to kidney failure.

 


Uncontrolled diabetes results in high circulating blood glucose (sugar) levels, and this injures the small blood vessels (microvasculature) of the kidney (especially in the filtering portion of the kidney, the glomerulus). The damage to the kidney blood vessels starts right away with high blood sugars, but it can take many years of uncontrolled diabetes to produce enough damage to the kidney that it can be detected by laboratory tests. The most important thing to emphasize here is that damage to the kidney can be entirely silent and without symptoms. This is the reason it is important to have two tests of kidney function performed early and regularly: (1) the serum creatinine or estimated GFR (eGFR) and (2) the urine test for protein (albumin, microalbumin, or microalbumin/creatinine ratio).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.