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Kidney diseases in diabetes

Chronically high blood sugar or high blood pressure as well as the narrowing of renal arteries can cause damage to the kidneys. High blood sugar also makes you susceptible to urinary tract infections.

Disorders in the funciont of kidneys are very common in people with diabetes. There may be several underlying factors – some related to diabetes, some not. The underlying factors of diabetes-related kidney damage include genetic disposition and, normally, chronically high blood sugar and blood pressure or a atherosclerosis.

To some degree, the increased prevalence of kidney disease is explained by age, because approximately 45% of people with diabetes are aged 70 or older. Kidney diseases are more common in the elderly.

Long-term high blood pressure can result in kidney damage – even when person does not have diabetes. On the other hand, high blood pressure can accelerate the progress of kidney diseases resulting from diabetes as well as other reasons.

A person with diabetes has a higher risk of a narrowing of the arteries delivering blood to the kidneys. A narrowing of the renal arteries increases blood pressure and impairs the operation of the kidneys. The essential thing is to prevent and treat the atherosclerosis by means of lifestyle management, keeping the blood sugar, blood pressure and blood fat levels as close to normal as possible and quitting possible smoking.

A person with diabetes is more likely to have urinary tract infections. The normal cure for a urinary tract infection is a short cure of antimicrobial medicine. In the case of repeat infections, a preventive antimicrobial treatment can be used in addition to self-care. If the blood sugar balance is high, there is a higher risk of an inflammation of the bladder progressing to the kidneys. A kidney inflammation requires thorough treatment, usually an antibiotic given intravenously.

The asymptomatic presence of bacteria in the urine is not separately screened with urine tests. That said, a latent inflammation can sometimes be the cause of an “unaccountable” increase in blood sugar. In this case, it may be necessary to perform a urine strip test and examine the sample for bacteria.

Updated 30.9.2023