Many Not Aware That Diabetes Can Affect Kidneys

Many people who have diabetes are not aware that the condition can affect the health of their kidneys, according to new research published in the Journal of Renal Care. An estimated 20% to 30% of people with diabetes will develop evidence of diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease), which is the leading cause of kidney failure in the United States.

Researchers spoke to a total of 48 people with diabetes between the ages of 34 and 79 who were attending specialist kidney services in select locations throughout the United Kingdom. All of the participants had Type 2 diabetes and were either white or South Asian.


The researchers found that many of the people had not been aware of the link between diabetes and kidney disease until they were referred to a kidney specialist. They often questioned why they hadn’t been made more aware of the connection between the two conditions and felt they had received limited information about potential diabetes complications when they were diagnosed.

“The people we spoke to experienced feelings of surprise, fear, and regret when they found out their kidney had been affected,” noted Gurch Randhawa, one of the study authors and director of the Institute for Health Research at the University of Bedfordshire. “Some patients saw their kidney referral as a ‘wake-up call’ that they needed to manage their diabetes more seriously, while others were concerned about their lack of knowledge about the disease. What was clear was that many of the patients we spoke to were much more aware of how diabetes could affect their eyes and their feet than their kidneys.”

If you have diabetes, there are a number of steps you can take to keep your kidneys healthy, including receiving regular screenings to check for any signs of developing kidney disease, controlling your blood glucose and blood pressure levels, following a healthful eating plan, and taking any medicines your doctor may prescribe to slow kidney damage, such as ACE inhibitors or ARBs. (Click here for more information on preventing kidney problems from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.)

To learn more about the research, read the article “Experts Call for Greater Awareness of the Links Between Diabetes and Kidney Disease” or see the study in the Journal of Renal Care. And for more information about kidney health, see the article “Protecting Your Kidneys” or visit the Web site of the National Kidney Foundation.

What do you wish someone had told you about diabetes earlier?

  • jim snell

    Diabetes does kidney damage.

    As old warhorse and as I was cleaning up mess and getting back to under control; Doctor sent me to kidney Doctor and sure as heck, kidneys degrading, efficiency down and numbers bad. After getting A1c down, and eyes-retina healing; got kidney decline arrested and numbers better. I now get check every 3 months. Conclusion; get dam diabetes under control.

  • Viki

    Wish you could be a “buddy” to my hubby — he needs someone to talk to him like that. I think his doctor is a namby pamby and just continues to change his medicine and my husband thinks as long as he’s on shots and downs his pills morning, noon and night that he can keep eating Scrapple, cheese, restaurant desserts, chips and dip, sausage — you get the picture.
    He had double bypass back in 2000 and seems heavier now than when he went in the hospital. Gets really ticked off when I “look” at his plate or his waistline (which cascades over his belt!) and gets mad at me when I tell him not to walk around the house in his underwear and sometimes (worse) without a t-shirt!
    ANY SUGGESTIONS??? Thanks.

  • jim snell

    Best wishes Vicky to your husband.

    I had a choice to make:

    I had stroke in Dec 2007 and learned that culprit was diabetes.
    I could not get BG nmbers under control,Overweight, hemorages on retina’s in eyes, gainig weight like made ( Inital diet fixes showed no results, body full of water ( diluting glucose), on actos, lungs getting worse, scrotom like cannonball full of water between legs.

    AT time, all I knew was that exercising real hard would pull down BG numbers 1.5 mile walk – no and 2.0 miles worked every am.

    Ended up with kidney Doctor, Neurologist, allergy doctor, family doctor chasing this and diabetes.

    AFter a year walking, finally twigged to liver sugaring me up to 238 on dawn effect – hint insulin numbers too low.

    Eventually got liver under control on metformin, implemented low glycemic diet with carefull care to ensure right carbs load for body. Answer 0 is bad.

    Finally with diet ( 1200 to 1500 cal), hearty exercise walking – 1 to 1.5 miles, meds and insulin, monster rained in from a1c at 13.3 to presently 6.9 and working for lower. Actos gone, added vitamin supplements from E to lutein and others and now eyes cleaned up, lungs stronger, blood pressure and rate improved, kidneys stable
    Choice is simple -How long and how well do you want to live?

    BG metering is criscial to keep brain and diet honest.

    Funny, you really do not need to cut out everything;

    just proper carb quantity per serving. Stopping only the snacks and goodies is not sufficient to get one there. I did that part and snd still got stroke.

  • John_C

    Well I agree that most people get very little information when being diagnosed with diabetes. So little, you couldn’t possibly know how to manage the disease or, more important, how to lessen the chances of extreme complications.

    Educating yourself is really priority #1. I’ve found that the overwhelming majority of people really think they are truly being looked after and the doctor has a “magic” solution (or pill) for everything — in reality the word “complications” is the word they hear the most in the long run. Sad!

    Oh yeah.. don’t believe everything you read: most of it is incorrect.

  • Janice

    I was diagnosed with kidney disease a few years ago and am currently on the transplant list at a local hospital. I haven’t had to go on dialysis yet because my doctors say it’s better to go into a kidney transplant without it. With 13% of my kidney left, I throw up all the time, and have chronic constipation and diarrhea as I have all these toxins in my system. It’s been horrid as I’m also Type 1 Diabetic and take four injections of insulin every day.

    The hardest thing for me has been the emotion stress. I really struggle with asking someone for a kidney. As a matter of fact, I never did have the guts to actually ask anyone. My sister offered to get tested and now we’re waiting to see if she is a match.

    For anyone with chronic kidney failure, I urge you to communicate with people about how you feel. Talk about your fears and realize that you are important enough and you do deserve a kidney. My biggest regret has been not talking about it.