Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure, accounting for nearly 44 percent of new cases.Even when diabetes is controlled, the disease can lead to CKD and kidney failure. Most people with diabetes do not develop CKD that is severe enough to progress to kidney failure. Nearly 24 million people in the United States have diabetes, and nearly 180,000 people are living with kidney failure as a result of diabetes.
The body converts the food we eat into sugar (glucose). The body needs this sugar, in the form of energy, to perform its functions. The hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, regulates the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. If the body lacks insulin or does not use the insulin properly, then this imbalance results in high blood sugar. Eventually many unhealthy changes can occur in different body organs, including the kidneys.
How diabetes affects the kidneys
Damage to blood vessels
Even with the use of injected insulin, people who have had diabetes for some time often suffer from damage to the small blood vessels of the body. This may cause damage to the retina of the eye and result in loss of vision. Also, the delicate blood vessels in the filters of the kidney may be damaged. At the early stage, this damage is shown by finding protein in the urine.
Sometimes at a later stage, so much protein is lost from the blood that water from the blood moves into the body tissues and causes swelling (edema). After a number of years, the kidneys’ filters can become so damaged by diabetes that the kidneys fail.
Damage to nerves
Diabetes can also damage the nerves in many parts of the body. When the bladder is affected, it may be difficult to pass urine. The pressure from urine building up in the bladder can damage the kidneys.
The urine of people with diabetes has a high sugar content. This encourages the growth of bacteria and kidney infections may occur. People with diabetes must take special care to avoid infections and have them treated immediately.
Types of diabetes
There are several types of diabetes. The most common ones are Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 – Juvenile Onset Diabetes
Develops mainly in young people
Is caused by an inability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin
Requires regular insulin injections
Type 2 – Adult Onset Diabetes
Usually develops in people after their teenage years
The pancreas can produce insulin, but the body has difficulty using it properly
Treatments include diet, exercise and medication (pills, insulin injections or both)