Diabetes Mellitus May Cause Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Diabetes mellitus (called diabetes) is a disease in which levels of glucose in your blood are above normal. Normally, when you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugar and starches into glucose that is carried by your blood to the cells throughout your body. Cells need glucose for energy production – it is their basic fuel. The entry of glucose into cells is mediated by insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. Due to this action, insulin helps to keep the amount of blood sugar within the normal range.

In diabetes, the body’s ability to produce and use insulin is impaired. As a result, the amount of glucose in the blood increases, even while the body’s cells are starved of the glucose they need to function. Persistently high blood glucose levels can lead to serious health problems.

In diabetes, the body’s cells cannot take up enough sugar from the blood.

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Your doctor may have told you that there are two main types of diabetes, called type 1 and type 2.

With type 1 diabetes, your body does not produce enough or no insulin at all. This is called insulin deficiency.

With type 2 diabetes your body produces insulin that would normally be sufficient, but your cells are unable to use this insulin. In this case, the cells can only respond to insulin when it is produced in larger amounts. This is called insulin resistance.

How does diabetes affect the kidneys?

Constant high blood sugar levels can cause problems in many parts of the body, especially the heart, eyes, nerves and kidneys. High amounts of blood glucose that enter the kidney may damage the tiny blood vessels. When these vessels are damaged, the kidneys gradually lose their ability to remove waste products from the blood – the resulting disease is called diabetic nephropathy. Diabetic nephropathy is a chronic kidney disease.

If you have diabetes, your blood sugar should be controlled carefully in order to lower your risk of developing diabetic nephropathy (and other diseases secondary to diabetes).

How do you know when you suffer from diabetes? What are the symptoms?
Which tests can be done to know if you have diabetes?
How can you control diabetes?
Content last updated
  1. Deutsche Diabetes-Gesellschaft: Definition, Klassifikation und Diagnostik des Diabetes mellitus. Evidence-based Guideline, 10/2004.
  2. National Kidney Foundation: Diabetes and Chronic Kidney Disease (brochure, downloaded at 10.02.2010) http://www.kidney.org/atoz/atozTopic_Brochures.cfm
  3. Fauci A, Braunwald E, Kasper DL et al.: Harrison´s Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th Edition, 2008