November 18


How High Blood Sugar Affects Our Kidneys

By Gabriela

November 18, 2021

Our kidneys are truly remarkable organs. There are millions of tiny blood vessels inside them which take the role of natural filters. In other words, kidneys are tasked with the important job of removing waste products from our blood.

Unfortunately, sometimes this magnificent filtering system can break down. This can be due to many different factors. Today we are going to be concentrating on diabetes as one possible factor. This disease can cause damage to one’s kidneys and cause them to fail in their work.

That means they fail in filtering out all the toxins, while eventually resulting in kidney disease.

How Exactly are These Two Conditions Related?

Once the body digests the protein we consume, it leads to the creation of waste products. In the kidneys, as we mentioned, there are millions of capillaries (tiny blood vessels) that have even tinier holes in them. They act as our body’s filters.

And, as our blood flows through these capillaries, small molecules (such as the waste products) squeeze through these holes. They then become a part of our urine.

On the other hand, useful substances (such as the red blood cells and protein) are simply too big to pass through those tiny holes, so they remain in our blood, as they should.

When one has diabetes, this system can be damaged. Overly high blood sugar levels make one’s kidneys filter way too much blood. And of course, all this extra work is strenuous for our natural filters. So, after a long process of several years, they may start to leak.

This means we are losing useful protein through our urine. Microalbuminuria is the official name when it comes to our urine containing small amounts of protein. This usually represents an early sign of kidney disease.

And when the disease is diagnosed during this stage, several treatments can help to prevent it from getting any worse. Microalbuminuria, on the other hand, is one’s urine containing large amounts of protein.

And when the kidney disease is diagnosed during this stage, what follows is usually ESRD (end-stage renal disease).

Over time, all the added stress of extra works makes our kidneys fail in their filtering abilities. The result is a buildup of waste products in one’s blood. And finally, ESRD, or kidney failure, which is a very serious matter indeed.

A person with such a disease either needs to have dialysis (have the blood filtered by a machine) or have a kidney transplant.

Who is in Danger?

Not everyone who is diagnosed with diabetes will also develop kidney disease. There are certain factors that play a part, such as blood pressure, blood sugar control, and genetics.

So, in other words, the better we keep our blood glucose levels under control, the less our chances of getting kidney disease.

What are the Symptoms?

The bad news is that there are practically no warning signs until almost all of the function is gone. This is because one’s kidneys work very hard to make up for the failing blood vessels. Furthermore, these symptoms are anything but specific.

Still, usually, the first symptom would be a build-up of fluids. Some other possible symptoms may include: poor appetite, loss of sleep, feeling weak, having difficulties concentrating, and an upset stomach.

This is why it’s so important to see our doctor on a regular basis. Doctors can test our urine for protein, our blood for waste products, our blood pressure, and similar complications.

How to Prevent It?

Kidney disease caused by diabetes can be hindered in its tracks thanks to keeping one’s blood glucose levels in their target range. In fact, research has served to prove that tight control over those levels can reduce one’s risk of microalbuminuria by as much as 1/3!

As for those who already have microalbuminuria, their progression risk to macroalbuminuria was cut in half! Some other studies claim proper control of blood glucose levels can even reverse microalbuminuria completely!

Possible Treatments


Like we mentioned many times by now, two of the most important methods for treating kidney disease are proper control of one’s blood glucose and blood pressure.

It turns out our blood pressure can have a dramatic effect on the rate of progression of this disease.

As a matter of fact, even just a slight rise in our blood pressure could worsen kidney disease. Here are five effective ways for us to lower our blood pressure:

  • Less salt consumption;
  • Weight-loss;
  • Less-alcohol consumption;
  • Avoiding tobacco;
  • Regular exercising.


Should the methods mentioned above fail, we may need to turn to certain medicines for lowering blood pressure. There is a number of such drugs on the market, but not all of them are meant for those with diabetes.

Some can mask the symptoms of low blood glucose or even raise one’s blood glucose levels. That’s why most doctors would prefer that people with this condition take special blood pressure-lowering drugs named ACE inhibitors.

Still, it’s best to consult a doctor first.

Some studies recently conducted suggest that such drugs (among which enalapril and captopril) can slow the progression of kidney disease, all while lowering the patient’s blood pressure.

In fact, such drugs have turned out to be useful even for individuals who do not happen to have high blood pressure.


Some doctors use another method for their patients who have macroalbuminuria:  a diet low in protein. This is because protein has been shown to increase the hard labor of one’s kidneys.

That’s why a diet low in protein is ideal for this situation, as it can decrease the loss of protein in one’s urine.

It can even increase the protein levels in one’s blood. As great as this sounds, one should not start a low-protein diet without consulting with their doctor or professional healthcare team.


We sincerely hope this information was of some use to our dear readers. Remember, we should always try to properly maintain not just our blood pressure or blood glucose, but our health in general.

Source: Kidney | NIDDK


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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