When kidneys are working normally, blood flows through tiny, special blood vessels (called glomeruli), allowing waste to pass through the kidneys and exit as urine. These tiny blood vessels are supposed to keep larger, more useful things (like protein and red blood cells) in the blood.
High glucose levels can damage these blood vessels. When damaged, they can start leaking, letting other substances, such as protein, leave the body through the urine. The presence of protein in the urine is the earliest sign of damage to the kidneys from diabetes. Over time, this damage can lead to kidney disease.
How many diabetic patients will develop kidney disease?
About 30 percent of patients with Type 1 (juvenile onset) diabetes and 10 to 40 percent of those with Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes eventually will suffer from kidney failure.
What will happen if my kidneys have been damaged?
First, the doctor needs to find out if your diabetes has caused the injury. Other diseases can cause kidney damage. Your kidneys will work better and last longer if you:
Control your diabetes
Control high blood pressure
Get treatment for urinary tract infections
Correct any problems in your urinary system
Avoid any medicines that may damage the kidneys (especially over-the-counter pain medications)