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Diabetes & Kidney Disease

Over 23 million people in the United States have diabetes.  Diabetes is the #1 cause of kidney failure

A special diet, exercise and medicines can help manage diabetes and prevent complications, but some people with diabetes may still develop kidney disease, even with good medical care.

Almost half of all kidney failure cases are caused by diabetes.

What is diabetes?
Who is at risk?
How will I know if I have diabetes?
What if I already have diabetes?


What is diabetes?

Diabetes (sometimes called “sugar”) means that your body has problems with a hormone called insulin.  Insulin helps your body use the sugar you eat (also called glucose) for energy.  When your body doesn’t use insulin the way it should, too much sugar stays in your blood.  Too much sugar in your blood can harm the tiny filters in your kidneys.


Who is at risk?

Anyone can develop diabetes, but you are more at risk if you:

While you can’t change some of these risk factors, you can change others.  For example, you can’t change your age, but you can control your weight.  These kinds of healthy changes can help you prevent or control diabetes and help protect your kidneys.


How will I know if I have diabetes?

Diabetes has very few symptoms. The only way to know for sure is to be tested.  If you do have symptoms, they might include:

  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling irritable
  • Urinating more than normal
  • Being very thirsty
  • Being very hungry
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blurred vision

If you think you may have diabetes or if you are at risk for diabetes, ask your doctor about being tested. There are a few simple blood tests that can check for diabetes.  Talk to your doctor about which test is best for you.


What if I already have diabetes?

If you already have diabetes, work with your doctor to manage it.  This may help you prevent or slow diabetic kidney disease. 

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