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Diabetes is the No. 1 cause of kidney failure, according to the American Kidney Fund. This is because several health issues associated with diabetes are also major risk factors for kidney disease. So it’s important for diabetic patients to be aware of them.

The link between diabetes and kidney disease

Diabetes can hinder the kidneys’ ability to clean the blood properly. This is due to injured blood vessels – a complication of diabetes. If the kidneys cannot properly clean the blood, patients will begin to retain excess amounts of water and salt, leading to weight gain and high blood pressure.

High blood glucose levels also can cause small blood vessel damage in the nerves, known as diabetic neuropathy. This, in turn, can lead to difficulty emptying the bladder, creating serious kidney issues that can eventually lead to kidney disease.  Diabetics should talk to their doctors if they are experiencing trouble urinating or notice that they go long periods of time without urinating. Doing so can cause bacteria to build up in the kidneys due to high sugar levels.

Overall, high blood sugar levels can harm the kidneys as well as other organs. For that reason, diabetics should talk to their doctors about better managing their blood sugars and treating any kidney damage early before it leads to kidney failure.

Signs of kidney disease

In its early stages, kidney disease may have no noticeable symptoms. The condition is usually only detected in urine and blood tests. In advanced stages, symptoms are usually not specific and may include changes in urination, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, sleep problems, ankle swelling, high blood pressure and fatigue.

If you are diabetic and are experiencing any or a combination of these symptoms, speak to a nephrologist. It’s recommended that all diabetic patients see a nephrologist at least once a year to best ensure their kidney health.

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